Protecting Your Identity: Place an Active Duty Alert

A stack of credit cards

If you are a member of the military on active duty in the Army, Air Force, Navy, Marines, or Coast Guard you can place an "active duty alert" on your credit report to reduce the risk of identity theft while you are deployed. This alert lets a business know that you're probably out of the country. The business is then required to take reasonable steps to verify your identity before issuing credit in your name.

To add an "active duty alert" to your credit, contact one of the nationwide credit reporting companies such as Experian (phone: 888-397-3742) or TransUnion (phone: 800-680-7289).

Example: Let's say someone tries to use your identity to take out a new credit card in your name while you're out of the country. If you've placed an "active duty alert" on your credit and provided your telephone number, the business must either contact you at the telephone number you provided or take other reasonable steps to verify your identity. This will help the company confirm that the credit card application is really an attempt at identity theft. The company will then take the steps to stop the identity thief from getting credit in your name.

Since it may be very difficult to contact you directly if you are deployed, you can assign a personal representative to answer for you, or to place or remove an active duty alert.

Active duty alerts on your credit report last for 12 months, unless you request that the alert be removed sooner. Your name also will be removed for two years from the nationwide consumer reporting companies marketing lists for credit and insurance offers. If your deployment lasts longer than 12 months, you may place another alert on your credit file.

The active duty alert requires the creditor to take reasonable steps to confirm your identity before opening a new credit account. If you want a stronger step to protect you from identity theft during your deployment, consider placing a security freeze.

TIP: If you have a problem with credit reporting, you can submit a complaint with the CFPB online.

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