You’d think that servicemen and women would be better protected than civilians from identity theft, but their risk is higher, since their Social Security numbers are used so often and also abroad. In Iraq, it’s painted on their laundry bags!
When a military individual has damaged credit and accumulated debt, they are subjected to disciplinary action. ID theft can delay or cancel a military person’s deployment and lead to revocation of security clearances.
The FTC says that ID theft among service individuals is on the rise. Last year, 22,000 filed complaints of ID theft. In Ohio, this crime jumped 20 percent between 2012 and 2013.
The proposed Ohio bill would raise the penalties for ID theft against active-duty members and their spouses. The bill would also allow the victims to file civil actions against the thieves.
New Jersey is also considering a bill that would increase the penalty for ID theft of veterans. New York and Illinois have already passed stronger penalties. North Carolina bans the release of military discharge documents.
All along, the SSN was printed on a service member’s military ID card, which was used all over the place. In 2008, the Department of Defense began removing the numbers. In 2012, they implemented removal of the SSNs from the card barcodes. These changes won’t be completed till 2017.
What can military personnel do to protect against ID theft?
Two things that service members can do is get active duty alerts and security freezes, but it would be simpler to use these tools one at a time.
The active duty alert, which is free, is done one year at a time after contacting one credit bureau. You can remove this at any time.
The security freeze, once in place, is indefinite unless you decide to remove it. It requires contacting three credit bureaus and is free online to North Carolina residents.