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Protect Yourself While You're Protecting Us

Most military personnel try to ensure that their finances are protected before deployment. However, despite some servicemembers' best efforts, identity thieves still manage to obtain personal information.

The most successful and common way to stop identity theft is to shred any important documents that have a credit card or Social Security number on it before throwing it away. But, some ambitious thieves have found ways around sorting through the trash to get victims? information.

According to the Federal Trade Commission, this is how thieves get personal information:

  • Stealing records or information while they're on the job
  • Bribing an employee who has access to personal records
  • Hacking these records
  • Conning information out of employees
  • Stealing mail, including bank and credit card statements, credit card offers, new checks, and tax information
  • Access credit reports by abusing an employer's authorized access to them, or by posing as a landlord, employer, or someone else who may have a legal right to access a credit report
  • Stealing credit or debit card numbers by capturing the information in a data storage device in a practice known as "skimming"
  • Swipe your card for an actual purchase, or attach the device to an ATM machine where you may enter or swipe your card
  • Steal wallets or purses
  • Complete a "change of address form" to divert your mail to another location
  • Steal personal information they find in a victim?s home
  • Steal personal information through email or phone by posing as legitimate companies and claiming that there is a problem with a certain account. This practice is known as "phishing" online, or pretexting by phone

Servicemembers worried about identity theft can monitor their credit reports using an active duty military alert. This tool will remove the applicant?s name from the credit reporting companies' marketing list for pre-screened credit card offers for two years. If the deployment is longer than two years the alert can be extended.

Active-duty military and their families can also protect themselves by not giving personal, financial information over the phone to telemarketers; not placing financial information online or on the Internet; and placing passwords on credit card, bank and other financial accounts.

Victims of this pervasive crime spent hours and a lot of money trying to fix the long-term damage identity theft causes. Take the proper precautions to thwart identity thieves and protect your family.

For more information, visit www.ftc.gov.

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