While our troops protect our country, who is protecting their identity?
It seems the very people we depend on for our protection are not exempt from identity theft.
According to a 2012 Federal Trade Commission report, there were 17,915 military consumer complaints in 2011. 27% of these complaints were related to identity theft.1 The primary victim categories not only included Active Duty Service Members but also veterans and spouses.
Deployed troops are often a long way from home and way too busy to keep an eye on potential identity threats. The United States military has recognized the increased threat to military personnel and is in the process of implementing corrective measures—but there is still a long way to go.
If you’re in the military or know someone who is, here are some tips to help lower the risk.
- Military personnel deployed overseas can request what is called an “Active Duty Alert” on their credit file. It requires creditors to verify your identity before anyone can open a line of credit in your name. And unlike conventional fraud alert requests, which are valid for 90 days, an Active Duty Alert is effective for an entire year.
- Active Duty Alerts can be implemented, or cancelled, by calling one of the three national consumer reporting agencies:
- Equifax: 1-800-525-6285
- Experian: 1-888-397-3742
- TransUnion: 1-800-680-7289
- Shred personal documents
- Be diligent about sharing your Social Security number and military ID
- Don’t use obvious passwords; use a combination of numbers, letters and symbols
- Don’t click on links from unsolicited emails
- Keep an eye on your credit report and frequently review financial statements
We can all agree that our troops have enough to do already, but they must be even more diligent about protecting their personal information from thieves who care nothing about their commitment or their sacrifice, and just want to steal their money.
1 Consumer Sentinel Network, FTC, 2012.
† Federal Trade Commission. “Consumer Sentinel Network Data Book For
January – December 2011.” February 2012.
† Javelin Strategy & Research. "2012 Identity Fraud Report: Social Media and Mobile Forming
the New Fraud Frontier." February 2012.