Preventing Military Identity Theft

June 12, 2014

Ohio is considering a bill to curb military identity theft, reports the Washington Times.

The damaged credit and stolen funds that come with identity theft are bad enough, but members of the military are also subject to disciplinary action if they accumulate debt and bad credit. Identity theft can lead to a revocation of security clearances and, in some cases, cancel or delay a service member's deployment.

Identity theft among the military is on the rise, according to the Federal Trade Commission. In 2013, service members filed 22,000 complaints of identity theft. And according to Ohio's attorney general, military identity theft complaints in the state rose 20 percent between 2012 and 2013.

In response, the Ohio legislature is debating a bill that would increase identity theft penalties for fraud against active-duty members and spouses, raising identity theft against the military by one felony degree. Additionally, the bill allows identity fraud victims in the state to file civil actions against the perpetrators.

Other states have taken similar measures.

  • Illinois and New York have both passed stronger penalties for military identity theft, and New Jersey is considering a bill that would increase penalties for veteran identity theft.
  • North Carolina prohibits the release of military discharge documents, specifically to combat identity theft.

Why is identity theft such a problem among the military? For years, service members' Social Security numbers were printed on their military ID cards. The Department of Defense began removing those numbers from cards in 2008 and, in 2012, began removing Social Security numbers from the ID cards' barcodes. This process should be completed by 2017.

Some supporters of the Ohio bill have asked that it be expanded to include children and dependents.

Source: Lisa Cornwell, "Ohio bill aims to prevent military identity theft," Washington Times, May 24, 2014. 

 

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