According to the
Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, service members have submitted 650 complaints about credit reporting
since 2012. One in six of those complaints involved identity theft or
misuse of accounts. Less than one percent of those 650 people had put
an Active Duty Alert in place before leaving for a deployment.
An Active Duty Alert lasts for twelve months and is available to any service
members that are on active duty and assigned away from their usual duty
station. Once the credit reporting agencies receive the Active Duty Alert,
a service member’s credit is protected in two ways. First, lenders
are given notice of the active duty status and are required to take reasonable
steps to verify identity before issuing new credit. Second, the service
member’s name is removed from credit reporting companies’
pre-screening lists for credit offers and insurance. These protections
help prevent identity theft while also stopping pre-approved credit offers
from being sent to the service member’s home address.
Another available tool is the Initial Fraud Alert. In order to qualify,
one must only have a good faith suspicion that they may be the victim
of fraud or identity theft. This type of alert lasts for 90 days. Lenders
are required to take reasonable steps to verify identity before issuing
new credit. The alert also includes access to one free credit report from
each bureau—this is in addition to the regular free annual credit report.
Extended Fraud Alerts are available to individuals that have been the victims
of identity theft. The individual must have submitted an identity theft
report with one of the credit reporting agencies. Once the alert is in
place, lenders must contact you before issuing new credit. It also entitles
you to two additional free credit reports a year. The extra credit reports
make it easier to track credit and identify further issues. The alert
lasts for seven years and also removes the individual from the pre-approval
list for five years.
A final tool that service members and other consumers can use to protect
their credit is a
credit freeze. Some states provide free credit freezes. Others permit a small fee. In
the case that a fee is permitted, it is payable directly to the credit
reporting agency. While the freeze is in place, businesses, lenders, and
employers cannot access your credit report without the freeze being lifted.
State law determines how long the freeze lasts. The credit freeze also
entitles individuals to one additional free credit report each year.
It is important for everyone to protect his or her credit score. For service
members, who may be deployed away from home for extended periods, utilizing
the tools above can drastically reduce the chances of identity theft or
A Chicago consumer lawyer from Sulaiman Law Group, LTD can answer any further
questions you may have.
Call us today for your consultation: (312) 313-1613.