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How military personnel can protect their credit records
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A federal lawmaker is moving forward with his proposal. Rep. John Salazar, D.-Colo., has introduced the "Comprehensive Veterans' Data Protection and Identity Theft Prevention Act," designed to protect and inform military veterans when their personal information is breached. The measure requires the VA to provide, free of charge, credit monitoring services and a copy of their credit reports once a year over a two-year period for those affected. The individuals would also have the option to participate in a free fraud alert and credit security freeze for a year.

Steps to protect credit
But, military personnel also can practice a little self-defense to protect their credit while they are away.

For one, they can put an "active duty" alert on their credit reports for one year to reduce the chances of someone committing financial fraud.

The alert lets a business know that it must first verify the person's identity before issuing credit. If the serviceman or -woman is deployed, the law would allow a personal representative to place or remove an alert. The Federal Trade Commission explains that placing the active-duty alert on the report will also remove the military personnel's name from the nationwide consumer reporting companies marketing lists for pre-screened credit and insurance for at least two years.

To place or remove the alert, one of the big three credit reporting bureaus, Equifax, Experian or TransUnion, must be contacted. The military personnel will need proof of identity, Social Security number, name, address and other personal information.

Military departments are advising military personnel to protect their financial records.

Check bank statements, credit card statements and any other statements related to recent financial transactions for suspicious activity.

The VA indicates causes for suspicion include:

The law allows individuals one free copy of their credit report each year, so request a free report from the three major credit bureaus.

Reacting to suspicious activity:

Bankrate.com's corrections policy -- Posted: July 19, 2006
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