It’s a sad reality: when military personnel are away for long periods, criminals often target their identities.
Compared to the rest of consumers, military personnel experience, “28 percent higher rates of new-account fraud and 18 percent higher rates of familiar fraud,” according to Javelin Strategy & Research. New account fraud happens when someone obtains new credit using your personal information. And familiar fraud is when someone you know, such as a friend, fellow service member or family member uses your information for personal gain.
When thieves are successful, service members may encounter big financial and time-related headaches when they return home. Before they ship off, they should follow these three steps:
- Place an active duty alert—Adding an active duty alert to your credit files indicates that businesses need to be extra careful about verifying your identity before granting credit in your name.
- Review your credit report—Understanding where your credit stands before you leave will make it much easier to spot fraud when you get back. Visit www.annualcreditreport.com for free copies of your current credit report.
- Carefully consider your power of attorney (POA)—While you may need to assign a POA to handle personal or business affairs while you are deployed, use extreme caution because your POA is legally allowed to make decisions on your behalf for whatever is stipulated in the POA agreement. So ensure you can fully trust the person. And only give them power over things that cannot be left until you return.
These three steps will keep the identities of service members much safer while they are away. To learn about other key identity protection steps check out these additional military identity theft prevention tips.
If you suspect you're a victim of identity theft or wish to proactively manage your identity, check with your insurance company, financial institution, or employee benefits provider. Many companies offer LifeStages® Identity Management Services from CyberScout for low or no cost. To learn more, visit CyberScout’s Knowledge Center or call 1-888-682-5911.