|Laws can protect returning military
Be aware that these protections will minimize -- but
not eliminate -- the threat of identity theft. To be extra sure
that there aren't any problems, authorize your spouse, parent or
other financial representative to pull a copy of your credit report
periodically while you're gone and scan it for any suspicious activity.
Other. Reservists and
active-duty military members enjoy other protections related to
civilian jobs and tax filings. For information on these issues,
see these Bankrate stories:
For more information, the military operates a legal
information portal, which covers topics such as consumer and
contract issues, family law, immigration, landlords and tenants,
how to get free legal assistance as a member of the military, and
many other topics. More information on the Servicemembers Civil
Relief Act can be found on military.com.
Reservists can find information specific to their concerns at operationhomefront.org.
It's important to remember that a particular provision of the law
won't protect you unless you invoke it. You must proactively notify
lenders, landlords, leaseholders and others in writing with information
including your account number, your personal information, the nature
of your military service, and the length of your deployment in order
to take advantage of the law.
Make sure to keep copies of all letters and statements
you receive as proof that you notified these creditors. Send letters
"return receipt requested," so you can be sure they are
Getting ready for deployment is a busy time. But if
you can take care of potential problems before they surface, you'll
make things a lot easier for you and your family, both while you're
gone and when you come back. Plan to sit down with your spouse,
parent or friend who will be handling your finances while you are
"There are quite a few family members who have
never had to handle the household budgeting and pay the bills who
have to deal with these responsibilities when they are totally unprepared,"
says Laura Taylor, director of education and community relations
for the Greater Washington Center for Financial Education. So if
you haven't had a budget before, work on one together before you
Deployed reservists and active-duty military receive
bonuses in the form of combat pay, extra allowances and other benefits,
but those extra funds may not kick into paychecks right away and
may not be immediately reversed upon the end of deployment, creating
potential headaches. Shannon Nash, CPA, a former military spouse
and author of "For the Love of Money," suggests military
families save any extra pay rather than spending it.
"Take this extra windfall and use it to fund
an IRA, start or increase your contribution to the military retirement
system, save to buy a house, or fund your kids' college education,"
she says. "Do anything but spend it, because once you're used
to spending at a higher level, it will be very difficult to return
to the regular pay left post-deployment."