Identity theft and fraud are serious crimes that affect the credit rating and financial well-being of many servicemembers, their families and veterans. The theft occurs in several ways but always involves access to your personal financial information. Due to frequent moves, overseas deployments and transitioning to civilian life, the risk of identity theft is increased for military personnel and veterans. Each of the alerts below can help protect your identity and credit rating:
An active duty alert can be placed on your credit report while you are deployed. This alert notifies lenders that you are on assignment away from your regular duty station. The lenders should verify your identity before approving new credit. You can designate a personal representative (a spouse or another designated person) who can act on your behalf to verify your identity. The alert remains in place for one year; you can place another alert on your credit report if needed. You or your designated representative can remove the active duty fraud alert sooner than one year if desired. Also, placing the active duty alert on your credit report may reduce the number of pre-approved credit card offers you receive for two years. There is no fee to place an active duty alert on your credit report. For more information, visit http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0273-active-duty-alerts.
An initial fraud alert can be placed on your credit report if you suspect you are or may become a victim of identity theft. This alert advises lenders to take extra precautions before extending credit in your name. The alert will remain on your report for 90 days, but can be removed sooner at your request. There is no fee to place an initial fraud alert on your credit report. Placing an initial fraud alert also allows you to order one free copy of your credit report from each of the three credit reporting bureaus. For more information, visit http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0275-place-fraud-alert.
An extended fraud alert placed on your credit report means that you have been a victim of identity theft and filed an Identity Theft Report with one of the three credit bureaus. Lenders must verify your identity prior to issuing new credit in your name. Also, as an added precaution, the extended fraud alert may reduce the number of pre-approved credit offers you receive for five years. This alert will last for seven years, but can be removed sooner. By placing an extended fraud alert on your file, you are able to order two free credit reports within 12 months from each of the three credit reporting bureaus. For more information, visit http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0279-extended-fraud-alerts-and-credit-freezes.
A security freeze prevents a third party from receiving a copy of your credit report without your consent. Floridians age 65 and older or those who have been a victim of identity theft can have a free security freeze placed on their credit report; there is a $10 fee for other individuals. You must submit a written request for the security freeze to each of the three credit bureaus. A security freeze can be lifted temporarily or removed at any time for a fee of $10, unless you are a victim of identity theft or are age 65 or older. To request a temporary lift or remove a security freeze, contact each of the three credit bureaus in writing. For more information, visit http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0497-credit-freeze-faqs.
Below is the contact information for each of the three credit bureaus to place a fraud alert on your credit report.
P.O. Box 740241, Atlanta, GA 30374
P.O. Box 4500, Allen, TX 75013
P.O. Box 2000, Chester, PA 19022
Thank you for the service and commitment to our country and as residents of Florida. As veterans and active duty servicemembers you gladly accepted the responsibility to defend our shores and uphold our values when duty called. Unfortunately, businesses and scammers prey on military members and your families, taking advantage of your patronage. These list of scams will provide you with the information needed to identify and avoid falling victim to some of the most common tactics used by these fraudsters.