What is an Active Duty Alert?
Military personnel are particularly susceptible to identity theft because so many of their records, orders, and identification documents prominently display their Social Security number, and it is requested and used in an endless array of basic tasks that are a part of everyday military life.
The problem was acknowledged in a report prepared by several professors at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, released in early December 2010. “The military culture is one of widespread compulsory Social Security number disclosure. For now, individual troops are powerless to curtail usage of their Social Security numbers,” said Army Lt. Colonel Greg Conti.1
The Active Duty Alert is a special type of fraud alert established under the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (FACTA) that is intended to provide some measure of credit identity theft protection for U.S. military service personnel.
If you are a military consumer who is on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces, have been called to active duty, or are being deployed away from your normal duty station, you can request to place an Active Duty Alert on your credit file for a period of at least 12 months if you provide adequate proof of your identity. You can also remove the alert prior to the end of the twelve-month period, if you request it and provide proof of your identity.
How an Active Duty Alert Works
While the Active Duty Alert is in place, credit should not be extended in your name unless the credit grantor using your credit report first takes reasonable steps to confirm the identity of the person making an application for credit. In addition, if you provide a telephone number for confirmation, you must be contacted at that phone number or the creditor must take other reasonable steps to confirm the identity of the person making an application for credit.
As with any type of fraud alert, an active duty alert is not an absolute guarantee that no new accounts will be opened because many creditors, particularly instant credit providers, may still disregard the alert. Further, accounts that may not require your credit report, such as banking, wireless / cellular, cable, internet, utilities, rental accounts, etc. may still be opened. One small additional benefit is that upon placing an Active Duty Alert, you will also be removed from pre-screened marketing lists for credit and insurance offers for a period of two years.
Active Duty Alerts are placed in the same manner as an initial fraud alert, and can be placed using the same toll free numbers and websites provided below.
Tip: Before placing an Active Duty Alert, there are several important considerations and limitations of fraud alerts that you should carefully review and understand.