Armed Forces Day falls on May 18, reminding Americans of the sacrifices that military members make for the country every day. While these brave souls signed up to confront dangers and hazards that would make the average citizen shake in his boots, most members of the military would not have imagined that their jobs would put their identities at risk. Despite efforts from the Pentagon, military personnel still face unusually high potential for having their identities stolen.

One of the key reasons for that increased risk is the frequency with which troops have to give out their Social Security numbers. While civilians are reminded repeatedly to keep their numbers closely guarded and to only give them out when absolutely necessary, military personnel often have to give out their numbers for a variety of reasons, some as basic as logging into computers.

The potential for deployment makes the situation even more complicated. When troops are deployed abroad, and don’t have regular access to keep a close eye on their accounts or what comes in the mail back home, they’re at yet another disadvantage. It could be months before they see evidence of identity theft, long after serious damage has already been done. Fortunately, troops can put “active duty alerts” on their credit reports; those reports ensure that creditors take extra steps to verify identity before granting credit.

Taking the usual steps to protect identity may not be enough for military personnel. While part of the burden is on troops, many military experts believe that changes throughout the system – such as reducing the frequency of disclosing Social Security numbers – are necessary before the trend really slows.

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