Courtney Jordan

                                           IDENTITY THEFT                                            

What is it?
Identity theft is a form of stealing someone's identity in which a criminal pretends assumes another person's identity, typically in order to access resources or obtain credit and other benefits in that person's name.
Am I At Risk?
YESSSSS!!!! If you are alive and breathing, you are at risk for identity theft. In fact, even the postmortem should fear for their identities because they too can fall victim to theft. If you would like to gauge your risk for identity theft, take this Identity Theft IQ test and open your eyes to security savvy you really are.
How Can it Happen?
You lose your wallet walking down the street, you reply to an email telling you that your account is inactive and you must provide your login information to reactivate it, you casually throw away your junk mail that has all of those bothersome credit card offers without shredding them first, you fill out unnecessary personal information on standardized forms without thinking why a flower delivery company would need your social security number (completely normal right?)...  BAZINGA!! Your identity has just been stolen, and you are now currently residing in three states with over $100,000 in credit card debt; it is that easy.
How can it be prevented?
Be smart! Ask Questions! When we are young our parents teach us not to take candy from strangers. When we are adults the same concept applies. Do not reply to emails that ask you for personal identifying information. Paypal or eBay are NEVER going to email you asking for your username and password; they already have all of your information. Check your credit report often! As a resident of California, you are entitled to receive a credit report free of charge from each of the three credit bureaus once a year. Take advantage of your resources and stay on top of your life before it becomes property of someone else. 
What if it is too late?
Too often it is too late, and before you start to be proactive about protecting your identity, you have already fallen victim to it. If this occurs there are options. You should:
  1. Close all fraudulent accounts immediately! If you did not open it, do not keep it.
  2. Notify the credit bureaus and request a copy of your credit report. See for yourself what damage has been done so you can take the necessary steps to undo it.
  3. Contact the Fraud Department of Creditors. Explain your situation.
  4. File a complaint with the FTC. They are familiar with these claims and can guide you through it.
  5. If you know where the fraud took place, file a police report. Put a credit watch on your accounts, you could catch the perpetrator.

For further information and help on who to talk to if you have lost your identity, watch the following youtube video. It will provide you with information necessary to get your life back.