U.S. military personnel regularly victims of identity theft

U.S. troops are considered to be one of the most vulnerable populations when it comes to identity theft. Due to deployments and TDYs (temporary duty travel), servicemembers might not see discrepancies on their credit reports or may be more likely to miss other red flags indicating their identity has been compromised. As a result, ID thieves are increasingly targeting U.S. servicemembers due to this window of opportunity.

Military members victims of multiple data breaches

The federal government reports U.S. troops are more than twice as likely to become victims of identity theft than U.S. civilians. Military members’ personal identifiable information (PII) has been breached numerous times over the past 10 years. These include data breaches associated with various government agencies, including the theft of a contractor laptop in 2011 which contained the personal and health records of more than 4.5 million active-duty and veteran military members and their families.

Active duty and veterans lose millions to scams

In November 2019, CNBC reported members of the military community have lost $405 million to scams since 2012. Fraudsters actively play on the vulnerabilities of U.S. troops through fake job postings, romance scams, and phishing. According to Consumer Affairs summation of an FTC report, in 2018 military members were victimized thousands of times with many categories of fraud increasing over the previous year.

  • Credit card fraud reports totaled 10,590.
  • Military consumer bank fraud reports totaled 5,723.
  • Reports of employment or tax-related fraud rose 85% between 2017 and 2018.
  • Other incidents of loan and lease fraud increased, significantly in some cases.

Furthermore, since identity thieves are latching onto the nefarious opportunities associated with the COVID-19 crisis, this puts U.S. troops at an even higher risk. Recently, the Department of Defense (DoD) extended its travel ban through June 30, 2020, leaving thousands of servicemembers experiencing prolonged deployments.

Scammers are also increasingly targeting veterans. Generally, veterans tend to be more trusting and are highly susceptible to “high-pressure tactics,” reports The Army Times. Frauds targeted at veterans include benefits buyout offers, VA loan scams, and VA phishing scams.

ID theft can negatively impact credit standing

Troops and veterans have been conditioned to sharing PII since their Social Security numbers have historically been widely used as physical and digital identifiers. Over the years, SSNs were displayed on duffel bags, dog tags, and CAC cards. Until recently, DoD dependent ID cards, carried by family members, contained the SSN of their servicemember. Military use of SSN is changing, but unfortunately, these numbers have already been exposed numerous times.

ID theft can wreak havoc on one’s credit standing. Military members should become familiarized with the red flags associated with ID theft and follow the recommendations of the FTC. If deployed, the FTC recommends putting an “active duty alert” on credit reports so no one can fraudulently apply for credit during deployment absences. The alert is good for one year but can be renewed.

If you’re a military member who has been a victim of ID fraud, or even if you’re simply struggling with your credit standing, PRBC may be able to help. Our alternative credit score program can help you strengthen your credit. To learn more about our services, contact us today.

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