Id Theft: Military Personnel

As military personnel, you are especially at risk for identity theft, since you may not have regular or easy access to mail and may also be unable to check your credit score often to find out about potential problems.  Fortunately, there are preventative measures you can take to lower this risk.

Active Duty Alert

If you’ve been called to active duty or deployed away from your usual duty location, you can put an active duty alert on your credit report to lower your chances of identity theft.  Once you have an active duty alert on your credit report, a business must verify your identity before giving credit.  It also reduces the number of pre-approved credit card and insurance offers you will receive for two years.  Under the law, you may designate a personal representative, such as a spouse or other trusted person, who can act on your behalf to verify your identity or remove your active duty alert if needed.

Your active duty alert will continue for one year, and you can request to have it removed earlier.  After a year and if your deployment continues, you can place another active duty alert on your credit report.

To place an active duty alert, contact at least one of the three credit bureaus.  Update your contact information if it changes before your alert expires.  For more information, or to set up an active duty alert online, see:

Experian https://www.experian.com/fraud/center.html
Equifax https://www.alerts.equifax.com/AutoFraud_Online/jsp/fraudAlert.jsp
Transunion http://www.transunion.com/personal-credit/credit-disputes/fraud-alerts.page

 

Security Freeze

Instead of an active duty alert, you may choose to use a security freeze that will limit access to your credit report.  To do so, you must contact all three credit bureaus, and it will last until you give further notice.  You will receive a PIN and you use that number to temporarily lift the freeze.  There is a cost, usually between $3 and $10 associated with freezing and sometimes also with lifting the freeze.  A freeze does not affect your ability to use your existing credit—just to get new credit.

Protect Your Military ID

If your military ID has been lost or stolen, contact the military agency that issued the document.  That agency will tell you the necessary procedures to both cancel and replace the document.  When you contact the agency, ask them to flag your file so that no one else can obtain any kind of identification document in your name from them.  Keep an eye out to see if your information is being misused and your identity has been stolen.

Report Fraud to Federal Trade Commission

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) operates Consumer Sentinel/Military which is a secure online database of consumer complaints.  If you have a fraud or identity theft complaint, submit it at ftc.gov/complaint.  The FTC does not resolve individual issues, but your complaint helps the FTC to discover patterns, alert the military community to scams, and prosecute and end scams.

For more information on what to do if you become a victim of identity theft, see our What To Do page.

Further Reading