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Laws can protect returning military personnel
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Student loan relief. As part of a budget act passed by Congress in February of 2006, reservists and active-duty members of the military deployed away from their permanent-duty stations receive a deferment for up to three years on student-loan payments. In addition, lenders must waive accruing interest on these missed payments.

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Life and health insurance. Subject to approval by the Department of Veteran Affairs, service members may obtain deferments of life insurance payments during military service and for two years afterward. Once the service member leaves active duty, he or she has two years to catch up on the premiums and the interest charged.

Vehicle lease termination. The older law had no provision for terminating car leases, leaving deployed service members stuck making lease payments on cars they couldn't drive. Now, any active duty service member who is deployed away from his or her permanent duty station for at least six months can terminate a car, truck or other vehicle lease without penalty.

Identity theft. Identity theft can be an especially difficult problem for deployed military personnel because they might not even be aware of problems occurring while they are overseas. Amendments to the Fair Credit Reporting Act, or FACTA, allow any members of the military who are deployed from their regular posting to place an "active duty alert" on their credit reports.

In order to place the alert, according to the Federal Trade Commission, or FTC, you or your designated representative need to call the toll-free number of one of the three major credit reporting companies and request an active duty alert. It doesn't matter which company you contact, because the law requires them to notify each other of these alerts. You or your representative will have to provide information to verify your identity, including your Social Security number, address, etc.

The active duty alert provides two important protections. Most importantly, any business that is approached about granting credit in your name must verify your identity before issuing that credit. Secondly, credit reporting agencies must remove you from their prescreened marketing lists for credit cards and insurance for two years. While the active duty alert generally lasts for a one-year period, you can extend it if your deployment lasts longer than one year.

Next: "Make sure to keep copies of all letters and statements. ..."
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