As a veteran of the war in Iraq and a Colonel in the U.S. Marine Corp Reserve, I am outraged that slimy identity thieves target members of the military, but I can’t say that I am surprised. These criminals are the worst kind of opportunists and, unfortunately, the military lifestyle provides plenty of opportunities. There are some pretty easy steps you can take to protect yourself and your family, and if it’s already too late for that, there are also some things you can do to make up for your losses.
Protecting Yourself From ID Theft When You Are Serving Your Country
According to a Federal Trade Commission (FTC) report from 2013, members of the military reported incidents of identity theft at twice the rate of the general public. Since then, the FTC and the military have increased efforts to educate servicemembers to help them avoid becoming targets. Some of the steps you can now easily take include the following:
Put An Active Duty Alert On Your Credit File
This precautionary measure involves contacting one of the three credit reporting agencies and telling them you will be on active duty. All three agencies will then be required to contact you if anyone tries to open a line of credit in your name. The alert will stay on your file for a year and is free of charge.
Protect Personal Information
Always make it a habit to shred sensitive documents, never use obvious passwords, and don’t give out your Social Security Number unless it is absolutely necessary.
Review Credit Reports
Request your free annual credit report from each of the three credit reporting agencies and review them for unusual activity. This is done online these days, so you can even do it when you are deployed.
When you are deployed, it’s important to think about what you have left behind in terms of sensitive documents as well as what you have with you. Unfortunately, you can’t always trust the men and women you are serving with, so always log out of shared computers, don’t share passwords, and keep personal documents safely locked away.
How a California Consumer Attorney Can Help
There are many unfortunate consequences of having your identity stolen, not the least of which is being harassed by a debt collector over debt that is not yours. You can stop this illegal activity and you may even be able to collect damages. Contact me online or call my office directly at 855.982.2400 and tell me what’s going on. I will get back in touch with you as soon as possible to discuss your options.