From the front lines to the family table, military personnel rarely get due credit for the commitment they make through their service. The nation remains safe and secure largely thanks to their dedication to duty, and we all owe our everyday freedoms to the many sacrifices that military members and their families have made over the years. May is Military Appreciate Month and culminates with Memorial Day in honor of those who have fallen to provide the ultimate sacrifice for the country. We ask every reader and member to join us in celebrating the brave few who have given their time, labor, and lives so that we all can enjoy our liberty and happiness.
And while a day or month devoted to the military is commendable and more than needed, they deserve endless accolades and appreciation. Service members risk much more than the average civilian without ever expecting rewards. They also deal with many of the same risks we all experience in the digital age, with identity theft and cybercrime being a constant concern.
Here is a look at some identity theft issues relating directly to our military members. If you serve, keep these tips and tactics in mind the next time you head out on duty. If you have a friend or family in the military, please pass this information along to them in an attempt to keep us all safer from cybercrime.
Increased Risks Across the Board
Findings by the Federal Trade Commission indicate that active-duty service members experience identity theft, in its many forms, at a noticeably higher rate than the average citizen. Over the last five years, FTC data shows that active duty military personnel report incidents of identity theft involving a misused financial account 76% more often than other people and that 20% of them have experienced two or more types of identity theft. They are also almost three times as likely to report instances where money is taken directly from a bank account by using stolen debit card information or other electronic means.
Identity theft is on the rise in all sectors of the population, but these findings show that service members deal with the issue much more often than others. It is important to note that the FTC findings show instances of reported identity theft and that military personal might be better accustomed to making reports when issues arise. Still, the numbers are disproportionate and demonstrate a heightened possibility for identity fraud that can go undetected and inflict lasting harm to the victim.
Increased risks for identity theft stem from some common aspects that come along with military life. Deploying overseas for extended periods can make it difficult to monitor financial accounts or credit reports actively. Frequently changing residences can complicate any notification safeguards set in place and reduce access to some warning signs for potential fraud, such as receiving unknown bills and being alerted to bogus credit card charges. To complicate things even further, active-duty troops report identity theft occurring by an acquaintance or family member at a rate double that of civilians.
These factors, among others, lead to a heightened possibility for service members to become victims of identity fraud while also making it more difficult to properly deal with the issue when deployed. There are some steps military members can take to help limit these risks and keep better tabs on their accounts and credit reports when on duty.
If you are in the service and about to be deployed, a few preventative measures can help you reduce the risk for identity theft while on active duty.
- An Active-Duty Alert should be set up before deployment. This is a fraud alert set up with the major credit bureaus making it more difficult for someone to open a new credit account in your name. It also requires businesses to verify your identity before issuing new credit in your name. An Active-Duty alert can be made at no cost and will last for one year. It can be renewed if needed. Contact one of the three credit bureaus to put the alert in place on all of them.
- Check your bank accounts as often as possible. This can be difficult on active duty, but with online portals and mobile apps now available, there are ways to access your accounts easily. If you notice any fraudulent or suspicious spending or activity, report it to your financial institution right away. You can also set up alerts when larger transactions are made from your accounts.
- Sign up for credit monitoring through the credit bureaus. This service is free for all military members. It can be a valuable tool to help you quickly identify any mistakes or issues with your credit report that could be caused by identity theft. With this monitoring in place, you’ll receive alerts when any activity is posted to your credit report, which can help you limit the scope of fraud and restore your identity if you do become a victim.
- Be vigilant in keeping your personal information safe and secure. There are scams everywhere, and service members are not immune from this ever-present risk. If you receive unsolicited contact via phone, email, or text that asks for your personal information, it’s most likely a scam. Never divulge PIN numbers, passwords, SSN, or other valuable information to an untrusted source.
We Are Here to Help
LibertyID has worked with many military members to restore stolen identities and limit the risk of identity fraud. Whether you are an active duty servicemember or a veteran, we want to make sure you have the proper safeguards in place to have the peace of mind and adequate defenses we all deserve in the fight against cybercrime and identity theft. Reach out to us at any time for tips, guidance, and resources to best keep your identity safe on duty or at home.
LibertyID provides expert, full service, fully managed identity theft restoration to individuals, couples, extended families* and businesses. LibertyID has a 100% success rate in resolving all forms of identity fraud on behalf of our subscribers.
*LibertyID defines an extended family as: you, your spouse/partner, your parents and parents-in-law, and your children under the age of 25.