What comes to your mind when you hear "identity theft"? Possibly, some undesirable has used one of your credit cards to make a purchase. Now you need to contact the credit card company, if it has not contacted you by the time you get your monthly statement. Hopefully, you can prove the purchase in question was not one of your transactions.

Next step is cancel that card and get a new one issued. Be sure the credit card company moves any bonus or reward points that you have to your new card. Now you can either contact each entity that you have on a monthly payment on that card, or wait until you get a notice that the payment did not process, then record the new card information.

This can be quite a frustrating process to go through, but it pales compared to having your identity stolen and sold to criminals around this great country or even around the world. You may be driving around one beautiful day and make a "California Stop" and be greeted by one of Santa Rosa's finest. He takes your license to his car and does a check, only to come back to your car and directs you to get out of your car and put your hands behind your back. This is a possibility when your background is switched by someone with a criminal history.Identity theft not a "fullz" errand

Cybercriminals can make a lot of money, nontaxable, with your identity. Information packages, called "fullz," can fetch $500 or more on the market. The packages may contain full names, addresses, phone numbers, email addresses with corresponding passwords, dates of birth, Social Security numbers (accessible in more than 34 billion cyberplaces), employer ID numbers and financial data such as bank account info, including account and routing numbers, online banking credentials, credit card information including mag stripe data with associated PINs.

These information packages can also be accompanied by counterfeit physical documents including credit cards, drivers licenses, insurance cards and more.RFID cards are vulnerable

Newer credit cards are being issued using radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology. This gives a card more flexibility at retail. But for a hundred dollars or so one can purchase a reader online that will allow them to pass by a person and capture all the information stored within that card. A TV documentary recently showed how easy one can take that information and transfer it to a hotel room key with a mag stripe and start using it as a debit card.Medical records at risk

Your biggest nightmare can begin when you find out that your medical information has been taken from you and you receive one that has negative medical issues. This  may be unknown until you are trying to get a large loan that will require a medical search. You get rejected due to your records saying you have a life-threatening illness. It is possible that you would be billed for medical care you did not receive. Now you need to convince some entity that it was not you.Majoring in minors

 One of the most cherished identities to steal is that of a minor. Most newborns are given a Social Security number for any number of reasons. Thieves know they may be able to use that number for 16 to 18 years, when a youth may start working, until the deviousness is detected.

 Many persons may feel that if the government is asking for confidential information to sign up for a program that it will be permissible to provide the data. But there is a potential problem lurking out there.

When enrollment started for the Affordable Care Act, thousands of "navigators" were assisting citizens through the process. Many are not registered. So far about 23 states have mandated background checks. What about the ones not registered?Millions of ID thefts in the U.S. annually

It is estimated that over 12 million Americans have their identities stolen every year. As of now, close to one-third have been part of an identity breach, and the numbers are growing. There is not a program anywhere that is 100 percent fail safe, but I represent one that will give you peace of mind if you follow it and a restoration program if your identity is compromised....

Mike Runyan is past owner of Food4Less and was a member of the Santa Rosa City Council. Currently he is president of Skyhawk Village Marketplace on Highway 12 and is an associate with LegalShield (legalshieldassociate.com/runyanjm, runyanjm@legalshieldassociate.com or 707-484-3663).