July 12, 2016

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Veterans and Identity Theft Risks

Veterans, as well as those who are currently serving in the military, have been trained for battle. But now they’re facing a new enemy that exists in the cyber world.

Military personnel make particularly compelling targets for cybercriminals. The Federal Trade Commission notes that members of the military are twice as likely to be victims of identity theft as the rest of the population. There are a few key reasons why they’re hit so hard:

  • Account access: Those on active duty can’t check their accounts as frequently as they would back home. Long deployments mean a soldier might only access bank and credit card accounts every few weeks or months. That gives thieves time to siphon from accounts and also to perpetrate more extensive identity fraud, such as filing fake tax returns.
  • Social Security number use: The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) uses Social Security numbers (SSNs) to identify veterans and active service members. The agency has tried to reduce the unnecessary display of SSNs when possible — for example, the numbers are no longer used on prescription bottles or mailing labels. However, since SSNs are still utilized to some degree, data exposure remains a concern.
  • Hacks and data breaches: Despite advanced technology, the military is certainly not immune to cyberattack. In 2015, hackers appeared to have gained access to records that included background checks on U.S. military members. That incident was reported around the same time that hackers stole personnel data and SSNs of every federal employee, including military members.

Fortunately, even when long deployments are involved, it’s possible for military members and their families to implement strategies that will keep information safe. Consider these steps:

  • Active duty alert: Putting this safeguard on your credit report is a smart idea, since it means businesses have to take extra steps before granting credit in your name. The alert lasts for one year, but it can be renewed for longer deployments.
  • Get educated: The VA has a program, “More Than a Number,” to educate veterans on how to protect themselves from identity theft. The website has tips on how to detect fraud, ways to prevent it and what to do if you suspect you’re a victim. There’s also a toll-free identity theft resource number for veterans.
  • Implement monitoring: When you know your accounts and identity are being protected even when you’re somewhere else in the world, it brings great peace of mind. A service like IdentityForce UltraSecure+Credit provides monitoring capability as well as restoration services from certified protection experts if needed.

Our veterans and active duty military risk enough to keep us safe. They shouldn’t have to add the threat of identity theft to the list. By putting some basic protections in place and stepping up monitoring, identity theft can be one less thing to worry about.

Judy Leary

President at IdentityForce
For Judy, identity theft protection is in her DNA—her dad started IdentityForce’s parent company in the 70s, and in the 80s, she and her brother came on board. She loves her dedicated team and how much they care about every member, partner, and supplier. In addition to protection against identity theft, Judy is passionate about travel (Aruba is her “happy place”!) and giving back. She volunteers for the Alzheimer’s Association, Mazie Mentoring Program, and Sunshine Golden Retriever Rescue. She’s also a proud mom to 2 grown daughters and 3 rescue dogs.

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