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Active Duty Alerts

Active Duty Alert

Active Duty Alerts

Credit and identity theft protection for military personnel

Learn%20about%20active%20duty%20alerts%2C%20how%20to%20use%20them%2C%20and%20how%20to%20place%20them%20to%20protect%20your%20personal%20credit%20reports Bookmark and Share


Active duty alert

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.

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How to Place or Remove an Active Duty Fraud Alert

You can use the following toll free numbers or websites to place or remove an initial fraud alert or active duty alert.

Tip: To be effective, you should place a fraud alert on your credit file at each of three primary national credit reporting agencies - Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. Although these three credit bureaus are supposed to share fraud alert information, (i.e. placing a fraud alert on your credit file at the other two bureaus when an alert has been placed at one), this does not always happen and can dramatically reduce the effectiveness of the fraud alert. You should also remember to place a fraud alert on your Innovis credit file as well.

Credit Reporting Agency Fraud Alert Website Toll Free Number
EQUIFAX Equifax Fraud Alert Website 1-800-525-6285
EXPERIAN Experian Fraud Alert Website 1-888-397-3742
TRANSUNION TransUnion Fraud Alert Website 1-800-680-7289
INNOVIS Innovis Fraud Alert Website 1-800-540-2505

1 Tilghman, Andrew. "Policy puts troops at risk for identity theft." Army Times. 2 January, 2011.

This article written and ©Copyright by Michael Barnett. All rights reserved. Published with permission. 

Equifax is a registered trademark of Equifax, Inc. Experian is a trademark of Experian Information Solutions, Inc. TransUnion is a registered trademark of TransUnion, LLC. Innovis is a registered trademark of Innovis, Inc.

Fraud Alert Considerations and Limitations
Fraud Alert Considerations and Limitations

Important Considerations and Limitations of Fraud Alerts

Regardless of what you may have heard, a fraud alert is not an absolute guarantee that no new credit accounts will be opened in your name as many creditors, particularly "instant" credit providers, may still disregard the alert. Some important consumer considerations for fraud alerts include:

  1. A fraud alert only has a chance to be effective if your credit report is actually pulled and reviewed by a prospective credit grantor, although even then it may still be missed or ignored. Many types of accounts, such as bank accounts, wireless / cellular, internet service, cable, utilities, etc. can easily be opened in your name without the creditor ever pulling your credit report.

  2. When a fraud alert is placed, you need to provide at least one telephone number for confirmations. When a telephone number is provided, you must be contacted at that number, or the creditor must take other reasonable steps to confirm the identity of the person making an application for credit. Providing more than one telephone number increases the chances that you can be reached for confirmations.

  3. You should keep track of the date on which you placed your fraud alert, and remember to renew the fraud alert at all three primary credit reporting agencies prior to the 90 day expiration.

  4. If a prospective credit grantor does pull your credit report and actually heeds the fraud alert, the presence of the fraud alert will delay most instant credit applications. If you are applying for credit yourself, you should remember to inform the merchant or creditor at the time of application that a fraud alert has been placed.

  5. Fraud alerts are rightfully considered a "red flag" by financial institutions and other creditors covered under the recently enacted Identity Theft Red Flags Rule regulation. The presence of a fraud alert on your credit file triggers a requirement for financial institutions and creditors governed by the regulation to take reasonable steps to confirm your (or the applicant’s), identity; and also to resolve any reported address discrepancy, prior to opening an account or conducting business with them, if the account opening, approval process, or transaction involves a review of your credit report.

  6. Fraud alerts can also potentially be a double-edged sword for some fraud victims. Many banking and financial institution personnel are regularly instructed to not open accounts for persons with a fraud alert on their credit file. The rationale offered for this policy is typically that: 1) the person is either already a victim of identity theft or fraud or may have even been involved in fraudulent activity, and 2) he or she may return and attempt to falsely dispute otherwise legitimate transactions that may occur within the account on the basis that he or she is or was a victim of fraud. If you are a bona fide victim of identity theft or fraud, this can potentially cause further difficulties or delays when you attempt to close affected accounts and open new accounts with a financial institution that has such policies.


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