Scam of the day – April 1, 2014 – Military identity theft worsens

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.

TIPS

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.

Scam of the day – May 24, 2013 – Memorial Day scams

As we enter the Memorial Day weekend, it is a good time to honor and remember all our veterans and active duty members of the military as well as thank them for their service.  Unfortunately, not everyone feels this way and scam artists look upon veterans as well as active duty members of the military as just potential victims.  There are a number of present scams that specifically target veterans as well as present members of the military.  Often military members serving overseas are targeted for identity theft because the identity thieves recognize that they may not be in a good position to monitor their finances and credit while serving overseas.  In another scam aimed at the military, a flier on a bulletin board at a VA hospital or other facility provides information for new VA benefits and a telephone number for the veteran or serviceman to call to file for these financial benefits.  Unfortunately, this is a scam.

TIPS

Any serviceman going overseas should put an Active Duty Alert on his or her credit report.  There is no cost to do this and it provides protection from the security of your credit report being breached by an identity thief who may get your Social Security number.  You can put an Active Duty Alert on your credit report by going to any of the three credit reporting bureaus as follows:

How to Request an Active Duty Alert
Equifax
Experian
TransUnion
(No Online Form)
1-800-525-6285
(No telephone number
for Active Duty Alerts.)
1-800-680-7289
(After entering your zip code
select option 1 then select option 3.)

As for the phony benefits flier.  Never trust any flier promising benefits while it asks for personal information from you that can be used to make you a victim of identity theft.  Instead contact the VA at a number that you know is correct to inquire as to any potential benefits for which you might be eligible.