April 23, 2007 -- Most victims of identity theft are alerted to suspicious transactions by financial-services companies, a recent survey found.

In a survey of 771 identity theft victims over a one-month period, 62 percent were made aware of the situation directly by their banks, credit-card company, or other financial-services firm, according to the Identity Theft Assistance Center, a Washington-based consumer support group.

Other common ways included having a credit-card purchase denied, during a credit check, or by receiving a strange bill in the mail.

By contrast, less than 1 percent were alerted by police, the survey found.

"By knowing the warning signs of identity theft, consumers can act more quickly," said Anne Wallace, the group's executive director. Getting a free copy of your credit report to check for discrepancies is a good start, she said.

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