Beginning June 1, 2011 Social Security numbers will not be printed on new military identification cards. This is a very long time coming and should have been done a long time ago. The DOD started removing Social Security numbers from family member identification cards in 2008. However, it could take four years for some cards since cards will be replaced upon expiration.
Currently, the Social Security number is printed on the back of common access cards, and on the front of cards issued to dependents and retirees. Beginning in June, when current cards expire, they will be replaced with new cards having a DOD identification number replacing the Social Security number. The DOD identification number is a unique 10-digit number that is assigned to every person with a direct relationship with the Department of Defense. The new number also will be the service member’s Geneva Convention identification number.
An 11-digit DOD benefits number also will appear on the cards of those people eligible for DOD benefits. The first nine digits are common to a sponsor and the last two digits will identify a specific person within the sponsor’s family.
Social Security numbers embedded in the bar codes on the back of identification cards will remain there for the time being, and will be phased out beginning in 2012.
Because of the easy access to the Social Security Number of military personnel, they have been easy targets for identity thieves. Plus, while on deployment they have a difficult time knowing they are victims of identity theft. They get hit with the bad news after returning home. Removing the SSN from ID cards is a positive step forward, but each individual needs to take additional steps to protect their financial and private identifying information.
Active Duty Alert
FTC: “If you are a member of the military and away from your usual duty station, you may place an “active duty alert” on your credit report to help minimize the risk of identity theft while you are deployed. When a business sees the alert on your credit report, it must verify your identity before issuing you credit. The business may try to contact you directly, but if you’re on deployment, that may be impossible. As a result, the law allows you to use a personal representative to place or remove an alert. Active duty alerts on your report are effective for one year, unless you request that the alert be removed sooner. If your deployment lasts longer, you may place another alert on your report.”
“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 companies: Equifax, Experian, or Trans Union. The company will require you to provide appropriate proof of your identity, which may include your Social Security number, your name, address, and other personal information.”
Equifax: 1-800-525-6285; http://www.equifax.com
Experian: 1-888-EXPERIAN (397-3742); http://www.experian.com
TransUnion: 1-800-680-7289; http://www.transunion.com
“Contact only one of the three companies to place an alert – the company you call is required to contact the other two, which will place an alert on their versions of your report, as well. If your contact information changes before your alert expires, remember to update it.”
To get more information on active duty alerts: http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/consumer/alerts/alt147.shtm
Credit Freeze / Security Freeze
Freezing your credit is one of the best ways to protect yourself. It will prevent potential creditors, insurers, and others who do not have an existing account or business relationship with you from obtaining or accessing your credit file until you instruct the credit bureaus to unfreeze your credit report. It does not prevent companies with an existing account with you, or a collection agency acting on behalf of the existing account, from accessing your credit report. They are designed to prevent a credit bureau from releasing your credit report without your consent.
Clark Howard of CNN says, “Credit freezes are one of the most effective tools against economic ID theft available to consumers.” http://www.clarkhoward.com/news/clark-howard/personal-finance-credit/credit-freeze-and-thaw-guide/nFbL/
The cost and availability of placing a Credit Freeze varies by state. You can get more information from Financial Privacy Now: http://www.consumersunion.org/campaigns/learn_more/003484indiv.html
You can Opt-Out from receiving offers for insurance and credit cards. Identity thieves steal these forms to open new accounts in your name. Then they run up charges and leave you to straighten the mess out.
FTC: ” If you decide that you don’t want to receive prescreened offers of credit and insurance, you have two choices: You can opt out of receiving them for five years or opt out of receiving them permanently.”
“To opt out for five years:
Call toll-free 1-888-5-OPT-OUT (1-888-567-8688) or visit https://www.optoutprescreen.com.
The phone number and website are operated by the major consumer reporting
“To opt out permanently: You may begin the permanent Opt-Out process online at http://www.optoutprescreeen.com. To complete your request, you must return the signed Permanent Opt-Out Election form, which will be provided after you initiate your online request.”
“When you call or visit the website, you’ll be asked to provide certain personal information, including your home telephone number, name, Social Security number, and date of birth. The information you provide is confidential and will be used only to process your request to opt out.”
“If you don’t have access to the Internet, you may send a written request to permanently opt out to each of the major consumer reporting companies. Make sure your request includes your home telephone number, name, Social Security number, and date of birth.”
P.O. Box 919
Allen, TX 75013
Name Removal Option
P.O. Box 505
Woodlyn, PA 19094
P.O. Box 740123
Atlanta, GA 30374-0123
Innovis Consumer Assistance
P.O. Box 495
Pittsburgh, PA 15230-0495
For more information: http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/consumer/credit/cre17.shtm
While the DOD’s steps are positive, only you can watch your back on this problem, so start taking the steps to monitor and protect your financial and private identifying information.