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How You Can Foil Identity Theft

Identity theft occurs when one person uses the personal information of another person to commit fraud or theft. In many cases, identity theft involves someone using your social security number to apply for credit cards in your name. The thief then runs up credit card bills, which go unpaid, damaging you credit record. As a result, you may be refused loans, cars, and even job opportunities.

Identity theft can pose particular problems for members of the military who are in active service. Amendments to the Fair Credit Reporting Act allow you to place a special alert called an active duty alert in your credit report. According to the Federal Trade Commission, the alert requires creditors to verify your identity before granting credit in your name. If you cannot be contacted, the law allows you to use a personal representative to place or remove an alert.

To place an active duty alert on your credit record, call the toll-free fraud number of one of the three nationwide consumer reporting companies: Equifax, Experian, or TransUnion. Active duty alters on your report are effective for one year, unless you request that the alert be removed sooner. If your deployment lasts longer, you may place another alert on your report.