It’s a pretty helpless feeling to be stationed far from home as an active duty member of the military, often in dangerous locations, and know that someone is running wild with your financial and personal identity.
US soldiers stationed abroad are often left relying on spotty wifi or phone service at off-peak times due to time zone differences when trying to put things right after a personal data breach. Even more daunting must be the feeling of finally returning home to your family or household and discovering that someone has been using your financial information for months, or even years.
These attacks come at an especially difficult time for the military. Identity theft can leave soldiers fighting a whole new battle to clear their names and secure their financial statuses. Soldiers who are returning from a lengthy deployment often have to rebuild their stateside lives, but identity theft can result in obstacles. These citizens may now have significant expenses they must incur, such as finding housing and being approved for a mortgage or lease, financing a car, furniture, and appliances, or applying for student loans to return to school.
All of this could be why identity theft is one of the top ranked crimes plaguing active duty military service men and women, and it’s on the rise. The lack of access to secure computers to keep up with accounts and the knowledge that these soldiers are in high-stress, high work volume situations makes them the perfect targets for thieves. In addition, spouses’ and children’s identifiable information is easily accessed through the service member’s records, coupled with the frequent address changes and sudden moves that military families make. This means that military identity theft is alluring and all too easy to accomplish.
But one state is now cracking down on military identity theft and is seeking to make the recovery process much more streamlined for the people whose job it is to protect the freedom of others. Ohio legislators are at work on a bill that will not only increase the felony level by one degree for thieves who steal from active duty military, but will also open the door for civil suits brought against the thieves. This bill has already passed the House and is currently under debate in the Senate.
Ohio certainly isn’t alone in the understanding that military service members need to feel confident and protected while they’re away serving their country. Several other states have already imposed action against criminals who go after the military or their families. New Jersey has pending legislation in place to impose stricter punishments on people who knowingly commit this type of fraud against service members, and Illinois, New York, and North Carolina already have tougher penalties for those who hack the information of the soldiers, veterans, or their families.
If you found this information helpful, you may want to consider taking part in the Identity Theft Resource Center's Anyone3 fundraising campaign. For more information or to donate please visit http://www.idtheftcenter.org/anyone-3.