According to a study done by the Federal Trade Commission members of the military are twice as likely to become a victim of identity theft. One of the primary reasons for this is the military personnel’s Social Security number. A Social Security number is the key to identity theft. Once an identity thief has this, he or she is off to the races. Until recently all military ID cards used the Social Security number and although the Department of Defense has changed its policy and is now issuing military IDs with a unique Department of Defense number, the transition to these numbers only started in 2011 and will take four years to complete so many members of the military still have the old ID cards. In addition, while Veterans Identification Cards no longer show the veteran’s Social Security number on the card, the person’s Social Security number is still embedded in the magnetic stripe on the back of the card so identity thieves who, through various pretenses manage to scan the card can obtain the Social Security number. These cards are also being phased out, but many veterans still have these cards.
Members of the military with the old-style cards should be particularly careful about providing the card as identification and should limit its use as an identifier whenever possible. Although members of the military are eligible for an Active Duty Alert to be placed on their files with the three major credit reporting agencies that requires creditors to verify the identity of anyone before issuing credit in the name of the member of the military, a credit freeze, which locks your credit report and requires a PIN to make it available is probably a better choice. You can find instructions as to how to put a credit freeze on your credit reports on the right hand side of this page.