Although it’s probably the last thing to come to the mind of a soldier facing deployment, it’s important to protect yourself from identity theft, especially when headed overseas for extended periods of time. Unfortunately, military personnel make for good identity theft targets because thieves know that it will be much more difficult for deployed soldiers to keep up with monitoring their credit report and finances.
To help prevent identity theft during deployment, military personnel or their personal representatives are able to place something called an “active duty” alert with the credit bureaus. This alert can help prevent would-be thieves from using the protected soldier’s social security number unlawfully. These “active duty” alerts stay active for one year, whereas standard fraud alerts available to consumers only stay active for 90 days at a time.
Having an “active duty” alert placed by the credit bureaus is easy. Simply call one of the credit bureaus (numbers to follow) and follow the instructions. Be advised that you will have to provide personal information. The FTC gives the specifics:
To place an “active duty” alert, or to have it removed, call the toll-free fraud number of one of the three nationwide consumer reporting companies: Equifax, Experian, or Trans Union. The company will require you to provide appropriate proof of your identity, which may include your Social Security number, your name, address, and other personal information.
Contact only one of the three companies to place an alert – the company you call is required to contact the other two, which will place an alert on their versions of your report, as well. If your contact information changes before your alert expires, remember to update it.