Protecting your identity while you are abroad
Military officials don't have a lot of time to deal with any personal situations when they are notified of deployment. Because an officer may get called into battle suddenly they might not be able to take care of all the loose ends prior to shipping out. This might include things like bills or any potential credit blemishes. They could be abroad for a long time while their credit score is potentially diminishing. Their haste to get everything ironed out also leads military officers being at a higher risk of identity theft.
Criminals and thieves know that members of the military are often out of the country. A soldier who is doing a tour of duty longer than a year presents an especially attractive target to criminals. Because a soldier may be in a rush to get things done before deployment and they are already more likely to be victims of identity theft, you need to take extra care to avoid vulnerability to possible attacks.
Once a thief has your personal information they can open new lines of credit, take out loans, almost anything. All at your expense. They can get away with it for a long time while you are not in the country without you even being aware. While you are off fighting for your country, someone could be using your information to spend on your behalf. You could return from duty to find a massive pile of bills waiting for you.
Here are a few ways you can help protect yourself from identity theft:
- Keep your personal information private. Never give out your Social Security Number (SSN), date of birth or any other sensitive info unless you absolutely must.
- Don't do online banking on public computers. It is generally not safe to enter any personal data into an unknown computer while you are abroad. Have someone from home take care of things like that.
- Don't carry your SSN card or birth certificate. If your wallet is stolen while you are in the country or abroad these documents can easily be used to steal your identity.
- Know and monitor your credit score. The best thing you can do to protect your identity is monitoring your credit. Unusual changes will set off red flags and you can deal with them right away.
- These are just a few steps you can take to prevent identity theft. There is still a lot you can do to protect your credit. It is best to have a credit care system or strategy of your own you can apply in a hurry. Having a plan in advance will make it easier if you are deployed with short notice. Know ahead of time who will take care of finances and transactions while you are away.
Taking extra steps to protect you and your credit will set you ahead of the game before you leave. There is always a risk of identity theft happening to soldiers on duty, but you can decrease your chances by actively monitoring your credit.