Featured Financial Tips
This list of tips will help guide you through some of the financial hazards servicemembers face every day. We encourage you to come back often as this list is constantly expanding with new and updated financial information. You’ve honored us with your service; let us help you prepare for your financial future.
Review financial and medical statements for errors. Discovering a billing error can only help you so there won’t be any surprises at a later date that can adversely affect your credit. Regularly review your credit report from one of the three credit bureaus every four months – Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. This will allow you to check for any suspicious charges or possible fraud. You can get a free credit report from Annual Credit Report or by calling 1-877-322-8228. The only source for your free credit reports; authorized by Federal law.
If you get a call from someone indicating they are representing a financial company you do business with and are asking for your personal financial information, hang up and contact the organization directly using the contact information on your credit card or financial statement.
Do not provide your credit card number, password or PIN over the phone or Internet to someone who has initiated contact with you. Use PINs and passwords for your accounts that are easy for you to remember but difficult for others to guess. For online passwords use characters and symbols such as # or %.
You should avoid using your birth date or anniversaries when creating your passwords. Sure they are easy to remember, but thieves know this is a common practice. Typically, these are some of the first numbers an identity thief will try, as they can easily be phished from social media and various public resources.
Routinely monitor your accounts and billing statements by looking for charges that you did not make. Report anything suspicious immediately; the sooner your bank or lender is aware the sooner they take action.
Review financial and medical statements for errors. Discovering a billing error can only help you so there won’t be any surprises at a later date that can adversely affect your credit.
Use a cross-cut shredder to shred your personal information. A cross-cut shredder is better that a straight shredder because paper is cut into smaller pieces instead of strips that can be pieced back together.
While on deployment, servicemembers should:
- Request and review your credit at least once a year.
However, you can review your credit up to three times a year at no charge by requesting a credit report from one of the three credit bureaus every four months.
- Put a free “active duty alert” on your credit report.
It requires businesses to verify your identity before issuing new credit in your name.
The alert lasts one year, but can be extended depending on the length of deployment.
It also removes your name from pre-screened offers of credit for two years.
- Place a “security freeze” on your credit report.
The security freeze means that your credit report cannot be shared with anyone such as potential creditors or insurance companies, without your permission.
It gives you more control over who looks at your credit file. Most companies will not open a new account without checking a consumer’s credit first, so if you have a security freeze on your account, this will prevent new accounts from being opened in your name.
You must contact each of the three credit reporting agencies to place a security freeze on your account.
A security freeze can be lifted temporarily or removed permanently at any time. The cost to place and lift a freeze in Florida is $10. Fees vary by state.
Do not give out your Social Security Number, Military I.D., or personal information unless you are 100% sure of the creditability of the person or business.
Thieves can obtain personal information from your mail. This information can then be used to steal your identity. Sign up online for a Self-Service Profile (SSP) at https://ssp.usps.gov/ssp-web/login.xhtml. There you can notify the post office not to accept any address changes without your personal Postal Service password.
Periodically request an “account history” from the Social Security Administration. Your work history is important to your chances of being awarded benefits, and this account history will help you track any illnesses or injuries that may have affected your ability to work. It also details the kinds of work and types of skills each job required. Disability decisions are based upon two things: information contained in a claimant’s medical records and the claimant’s work history, so be on the look out for suspicious activity within your account.
Install antivirus software to protect your computer by detecting and removing viruses. Make sure software is up-to-date, because new viruses appear daily.
When using an online retailer, make sure they are a secure seller that uses encryption software. Look for icons such as a closed padlock or unbroken key at the top or bottom of your browser as an indicator that encryption is being used.
Only provide personal and financial information through an organization’s website if you typed in the web address yourself. Also, ensure that the browser window displays the closed padlock symbol, which indicates the site itself is secure.
Be cautious of opening attachments and downloading files from emails. These files may contain viruses that may damage your computer's security system or provide access to your personal information.