COMMON WAYS ID THEFT HAPPENS: Identity theft is a serious crime. It occurs when
your personal information is stolen and used
Skilled identity thieves use a variety of methods without your knowledge to commit fraud or
to steal your personal information, including: other crimes. Identity theft can cost you time
and money. It can destroy your credit and ruin
1. Dumpster Diving. They rummage through
your good name.
trash looking for bills or other paper with your
personal information on it. The rigors of military life can compound the
2. Skimming. They steal credit/debit card numbers problems that identity theft creates.
by using a special storage device when processing
3. Phishing. They pretend to be ﬁnancial Active Duty Alerts:
institutions or companies and send spam or
pop-up messages to get you to reveal your If you are deployed away from your usual duty
personal information. station and do not expect to seek new credit
while you are deployed, consider placing an
4. Changing Your Address. They divert your billing “active duty alert” on your credit report. An
statements to another location by completing a active duty alert requires creditors to take steps
“change of address” form. to verify your identity before granting credit in
5. “Old-Fashioned” Stealing. They steal wallets
and purses; mail, including bank and credit card An active duty alert is effective for one year,
statements; pre-approved credit offers; and new unless you ask for it to be removed sooner. If
checks or tax information. They steal personnel your deployment lasts longer than a year, you
records from their employers, or bribe employees may place another alert on your report.
who have access.
To place an active duty alert, or to have it
removed, call the toll-free fraud number of one
of the three nationwide consumer reporting To learn more about ID theft and how to deter, detect,
companies. (Check under “Defend” in this and defend against it, visit ftc.gov/idtheft. Or request
brochure.) The company you call is required copies of ID theft resources by writing to:
to contact the other two.
The law allows you to use a personal Consumer Response Center MILITARY PERSONNEL & FAMILIES
representative to place or remove an alert. Federal Trade Commission FIGHTING BACK AGAINST
600 Pennsylvania Ave., NW, H-130
Washington, DC 20580 IDENTITY THEFT
FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION
DETER DETECT DEFEND
Deter identity thieves by safeguarding Detect suspicious activity by routinely monitoring Defend against ID theft as soon as you suspect it.
your information. your ﬁnancial accounts and billing statements. If
you are unable to take these steps while you are ■ Place a “Fraud Alert” on your credit reports, ■ Explain the situation to your commanding
■ Shred ﬁnancial documents and paperwork with deployed, consider placing an “active duty alert” and review the reports carefully. The alert tells ofﬁcer. You don’t want your C.O. taken by surprise
personal information before you discard them. on your credit report. creditors to follow certain procedures before they if contacted by creditors looking to collect on
open new accounts in your name or make changes charges made by the identity thief. You also may
■ Protect your Social Security number. Don’t carry Inspect: to your existing accounts. The three nationwide want a referral to a legal assistance ofﬁce.
your Social Security card in your wallet or write consumer reporting companies have toll-free
your Social Security number on a check. Give ■ Your credit report. Credit reports contain ■ File a police report. File a report with military
numbers for placing an initial 90-day fraud alert; a
it out only if absolutely necessary or ask to use information about you, including what accounts law enforcement and the local police (if you are in
call to one company is sufﬁcient:
another identiﬁer. you have and your bill-paying history. the United States). Their reports will help you with
❐ Equifax: 1-800-525-6285 creditors who may want proof of the crime.
■ Don’t give out personal information on the ❐ The law requires each of the major nationwide
❐ Experian: 1-888-EXPERIAN (397-3742)
phone, through the mail, or over the Internet consumer reporting companies—Equifax, ■ Report the theft to the Federal Trade
❐ TransUnion: 1-800-680-7289
unless you know who you are dealing with. Experian, and TransUnion—to give you a free Commission. Your report helps law enforcement
copy of your credit report every year if you ask Placing a fraud alert entitles you to free copies ofﬁcials across the United States in their
■ Safeguard your military ID. Keep it with you or for it. of your credit reports. Look for inquiries from investigations.
locked up at all times. companies you haven’t contacted, accounts you
❐ Visit www.AnnualCreditReport.com or call ❐ Online: ftc.gov/idtheft
■ Never lend your credit cards or account didn’t open, and debts on your accounts that you
1-877-322-8228, a service created by these
information to anyone else. can’t explain. ❐ By phone: 1-877-ID-THEFT (438-4338) or
three companies, to order your free credit
reports each year. You also can write: Annual TTY, 1-866-653-4261
■ Do not click on links sent in unsolicited e-mails; ■ Close accounts. Close any accounts that have
instead, type in a Web address you know. Use Credit Report Request Service, P.O. Box 105281, been tampered with or established fraudulently. ❐ By mail: Identity Theft Clearinghouse, Federal
ﬁrewalls, anti-spyware, and anti-virus software Atlanta, GA 30348-5281. Trade Commission, Washington, DC 20580
❐ Call the security or fraud departments of each
to protect your home computer, and keep them Your ﬁnancial statements. Review your company where an account was opened or
■ To learn more about ID theft and how to deter,
up to date. Visit OnGuardOnline.gov for more ﬁnancial accounts and read your billing statements changed without your okay. Follow up in writing, detect, and defend against it, visit ftc.gov/idtheft.
information. regularly, looking for charges you did not make. If with copies of supporting documents.
■ Don’t use an obvious password like your birth you review ﬁnancial accounts online from a public
computer, be sure to log off of ﬁnancial sites ❐ Use the ID Theft Afﬁdavit at ftc.gov/idtheft to
date, your mother’s maiden name, or the last four support your written statement.
digits of your Social Security number. before you end your session.
Be alert to signs that require ❐ Ask for veriﬁcation that the disputed account
■ Keep your personal information in a secure has been closed and the fraudulent debts
place, especially if you live in barracks or with immediate attention:
roommates. ■ Bills that do not arrive as expected
❐ Keep copies of documents and records of your
■ Don't let mail pile up unattended if you can’t ■ Unexpected credit cards or account statements conversations about the theft.
collect it. Use a mail stop or P.O. Box, or have
someone you trust hold your mail while you ■ Denials of credit for no apparent reason
■ Calls or letters about purchases you did not make
FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION | 6 0 0 P E N N S Y LVA N I A A V E . , N W WASHINGTON, DC 20580 | FTC.GOV/IDTHEFT | 1-877-ID-THEFT (438-4338)