By: Preston Mangus
We ask a lot of our military, and rely on them to protect our freedoms both here and abroad. Unfortunately, the demands of that service can make them more vulnerable to identity theft than other individuals. In fact, the Federal Trade Commission released a study in 2013 saying that military personnel report identity theft twice as much as the general public. (And according to WalletHub, Florida is ranked fourth among states that are most vulnerable to identity theft and fraud—so make sure you are on the lookout, whether you are in the military or not!) Because of the transient nature of service, military members can be called away quickly for short or long periods of time, with temporary addresses and sometimes spotty communications. Oftentimes, these individuals return home to find that they are victims of identity theft scams and must deal with the issues and credit problems that come with it.
Now the good news: The credit bureaus have a free program specifically designed for service members deployed away from their primary duty station. It is called the Active Duty Alert program, and it is specifically designed to reduce the risk of military identity theft. Members need only notify one of the credit agencies by Internet or telephone to request coverage:
Once notified, the credit bureau you contacted will advise the others to enact the alert program as well. The alert will remain in effect for one year, unless canceled by the member.
The Active Duty Alert program provides two additional protection services to service members:
You may also designate a personal representative to act on your behalf during your absence. It is easy to discontinue participation in the program by contacting the credit bureau either online or by telephone.
If you are still concerned about identity theft, you may want to explore a credit or security freeze. There may, however, be costs associated with a freeze, so make sure to do your research and select a protection option that works best for you.
Check out the infographic below for some more military identity theft facts and prevention tips from our partner, CyberScout, the nation’s leading premier provider of identity services. You can also visit our Protection Center for more information on how VyStar can help protect you against identity theft and other types of fraud.
The content provided in this blog consists of the opinions and ideas of the author alone and should be used for informational purposes only. VyStar Credit Union disclaims any liability for decisions you make based on the information provided.