Service Members Arm Themselves against ID Theft

Photo: DoD/Christopher D. Paul
Photo: DoD/Christopher D. Paul

They’ve dodged bullets and bombs in some of the most dangerous corners of the globe, but now the Defense Department says U.S. service members should be on the lookout for a different type of threat: identity theft.

DoD is partnering with the Federal Trade Commission on its “Deter, Detect and Defend” campaign, which aims to raise awareness of the hazards of identity theft, as well as tools to combat it.

Calling it another step in military readiness, Dave Julian, director of DoD’s personal finance office, said the threat of identity theft is even more prevalent among younger service members.

“Our force is part of the digital generation,” Julian said. “Our force lives online.”

What service members can do to arm themselves against identity theft:

  • Active-duty alerts – Because service members draw a regular paycheck and are often extended credit, they can be prime targets for identity thieves. This measure makes creditors get permission from the service member before opening a line of credit. Active-duty alerts are free and last for one-year periods.
  • Credit freeze – This puts a lock on a service members’ credit report, restricting access to creditors and others unless it is lifted. But laws vary across the states about who is eligible to initiate a credit freeze, as well as how much these freezes cost.
  • Free credit report – Members of the military should request copies of their credit reports at least once a year.

While identity theft is a problem for nearly everyone in the digital age, U.S. service members have become particular targets.

Earlier this year, the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command reported that scammers were impersonating service members to bilk women on dating and social-networking sites.

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