Theft and loss of credit card and Social Security numbers soared to unprecedented levels in 2007, according to the Identity Theft Resource Center, which reported 446 separate breaches exposing 128 million records.

By comparison, 312 breaches and 19 million compromised records were reported in 2006, and 158 breaches and 65 million compromised records reported in 2005. The massive data breach of TJX - who owns both Marshalls and T.J. Maxx discount stores - was by far the worst breach of 2007, accounting for about 46 million of the records on the list.

Although companies, government agencies, schools and other institutions are reportedly spending more to protect the ever-increasing volume of personal data, a lot of breaches are due to inadequate information handling. In fact, stolen laptops and misplaced disks account for the majority of the compromises.