In tough economic times, you need to get military minded about securing your finances. A strong credit rating is one of your most valuable financial assets, offering you access to the best terms in personal loans, auto insurance rates, and much more.
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Protecting Your Identity Secures Your Military Future

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In tough economic times, you need to get military minded about securing your finances. A strong credit rating is one of your most valuable financial assets, offering you access to the best terms in personal loans, auto insurance rates, and much more.

Maintaining good credit is step one; protecting your identity takes just as much vigilance, but it is every bit as valuable as any aspect of your financial planning.

For military servicemembers, identity theft can be harder to spot, and even harder to stop in time. In fact, military servicemembers are at greater risk than the average U.S. citizen for identity theft. The reasons: easier availability of government information, as well as a busy military lifestyle that includes serving long periods of active duty outside the country.

Although it may seem extreme, servicemembers must be extra careful about securing personal information from falling into the hands of identity thieves. Take these additional precautions to protect yourself and your family from the ravages of identity theft in the information age.

WHY THE MILITARY IS TARGETED FOR IDENTITY THEFT

Government issued documents aren't always discreet.

For example, all military ID cards printed by the Department of Defense before 2010 contained a soldier's entire Social Security number in plain sight. Personal information available on government computer networks exposes 2.9 million current and former servicemembers to identity theft from data breach and laptop theft.

In addition, military members live a busy military lifestyle, which means that identity theft may not be spotted until it's gone too far. If a servicemember is on active duty overseas, identity theft may go unnoticed and thus unreported for a long period of time. The result: serious financial consequences including permanent credit damage and even career damage for the military servicemember.

EXTRA MEASURES OF IDENTITY PROTECTION

Here are some ways that you can assure the safety and integrity of your identity while serving with the U.S. Military:

-- Learn about and then switch to online banking now.

-- Online banking is not only a convenience offering online bill pay and account reconciliation, it can be a help for spotting identity theft activity. Check your online banking service weekly for banking activity in your accounts; reconcile all financial accounts and statements online monthly. Online banking has another bonus: getting rid of paper trails left by printed and mailed bank statements will also reduce the chances of someone stealing financial information from your mailbox or trash.

-- As part of your deployment planning, activate financial alerts for all of your accounts. This service, effective for one year, requires businesses to verify the identities of applicants before issuing credit. Call the toll-free number of any nationwide consumer reporting agencies to place or remove an alert.

-- Be on alert for fake emails, instant messages, Facebook messages, or phone calls from unknown senders claiming to need your personal information. Always verify the legitimacy of a company before revealing any personal information that would give people access to your identity.

WATCH YOUR BACK IN THE BARRACKS

It is also common to have your identity stolen by someone who is close to you. If you are living in the barracks, keep your paperwork, identity documents, bills and account statements in a secure place. Be sure to shred all documents that have visible account numbers before trashing them.

PROTECTED ID

When it comes to identity theft, timing is everything.

If you see any activity on credit cards, bank accounts or receive bills for items you didn't purchase, don't hesitate. Contact the lender immediately and tell them you suspect that someone has used your identity to create this debt. They may suggest you file a police report, fraud report, or report your suspicions to your military base officer.

Protect your most valuable of possession - your identity and your good name - and you will be securing the future of your military career as well.



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