Helping our military personnel fight identity theft
Active duty military personnel need to pay special attention to protecting their identities since they may be subject to long periods of time where their identity could be used without their knowledge. Here are some proactive tips to provide guidance before, during, and after you or your loved one has been deployed.
Place an active-duty alert on your credit report by calling one of the three nationwide consumer reporting companies: Equifax, Experian or TransUnion.
Opt out of marketing lists. Permanently remove your name from the pre-approved mail offer lists by calling 888.5OPT.OUT (888.567.8688) or visit www.optoutprescreen.com
Review your credit report. It is a good idea to obtain a copy of your credit report prior to your deployment in order to preserve a snapshot of your credit profile. In addition, if any suspicious activity exists, it provides you an opportunity to resolve the situation before you are deployed and communications become more difficult. You can obtain a free copy of all three credit reports once a year by visiting www.annualcreditreport.com
Choose your Power of Attorney carefully. Often it may become necessary to assign a Power of Attorney (POA) to handle your affairs while you are away. A POA will allow your named representative to act on your behalf; ensure this person is known and can be trusted.
Know your rights. The Service Members Civil Relief Act (SCRA) provides active duty members certain financial protections connected to housing, interest rates, cell phone contracts, court judgments, and more. It is important to know these protections to preserve your good name and credit while you are serving.
Safeguard your military ID. Never lend your credit cards or account information to anyone else. Familiar fraud accounts for more than one-third of all identity theft cases. Sharing debit/credit cards, passwords, and account access tools can often lead to issues when someone you trust makes a poor decision.
Keep your personal information in a secure place, especially if you live in a barracks or with roommates. Keep it with you or lock it up at all times to prevent anyone from accessing it.
Don’t let mail pile up unattended. If you can’t collect it, use a mail stop or post office box, or have someone you trust hold your mail while you’re away.
Review your credit report. Upon your return you should obtain your free copy of all three credit reports by visiting www.annualcreditreport.com to ensure that no suspicious or unauthorized activity has occurred since your departure.
Remove your active-duty alert on your credit report. Once you are preparing to use your credit again, you should remove the active-duty alert from your credit profile by contacting one of the three nationwide consumer reporting companies: Equifax, Experian or TransUnion. If you have discovered unusual or fraudulent activity, you can replace the military alert with a 90 day fraud alert, a seven year fraud alert, or a security freeze depending on the severity of your situation.
Terminate Power of Attorneys. As soon as you are able to take over your financial affairs again you should revoke any Power of Attorney documents.
Know your rights. If you encountered any financial difficulties, including issues surrounding housing, interest rates, judgments, etc., be sure to check your Service Members Civil Relief Act (SCRA) rights. Remember, active duty service members have certain protections under the SCRA, even for a period of time after they return.