FTC: Active-duty military targeted for ID theft

The life of a member of the U.S. military is often difficult with deployments far from home, sometimes in hostile places. Their lives are further complicated when they are victims of identity theft – an increasingly likely occurrence.

Much more likely than average

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) says active-duty service members are 76 percent more likely to be victims of ID theft. The federal agency says the type of identify most often reported by the men and women in the U.S. military is misuse of their credit cards and debit cards.

The FTC says 14 percent of the service members who are been victims of financial fraud report that the perpetrator is someone they know – often a family member who used their credit data. The FTC adds that half as many non-service members – 7 percent – similarly report that ID theft was committed by someone they know.

Explaining the surge in fraud

Experts suggest that the high rate among members of the military is due to the fact that they often leave financial documents and information with family when they are deployed.

The FTC reports that there were more than 650,000 cases of ID theft across the U.S. last year. That represents a 46 percent increase over 2018 – a surge likely due to data breaches at Equifax, Capital One and other firms.

Many observers believe another increase in identity theft might take place this year, fueled by fraud related to the nationwide distribution of pandemic-related stimulus checks, as well as a hasty pandemic-related shift of many businesses to offer online payment options.

Fortunately, ID theft victims have options enabling them to fight back and regain what they have lost. In Minnesota and Wisconsin, contact the Consumer Justice Center to learn more.