2022 AFBA Financial Planning Guide


There are many scams out there. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact the United States, the FCC has learned of scam text-message campaigns and robocalls that prey on virus-related fears. Other popular scams involve calls saying your Social Security number or your utilities will be cancelled. Remember, legitimate companies will not ask for personal information or request payment by gift cards. When in doubt, go to the website directly and call the number listed. How Do Identity Thieves Use Your Personal Information? With a minimal amount of personal information, a skilled thief can quickly assume your identity to: a. Open bank accounts and write bad checks. b. Open credit card accounts and run up debt. c. Take over existing bank and credit card accounts by changing the address. d. Establish cell phone or utility service accounts. e. Rent apartments. f. Purchase and finance automobiles. g. Apply for social security benefits. h. Obtain employment. i. File for bankruptcy to hide the debt they have incurred in your name. j. Obtain a driver’s license in your name for use in cashing counterfeit checks. How Can You Protect Yourself? Practical Steps You Can Take Now to Reduce Your Exposure to Identity Theft: a. Use strong passwords, especially for financial institutions. b. If you’re using Wi-Fi, make sure you’re on a password- protected, encrypted Wi-Fi, not an open Wi-Fi that hackers can take advantage of. c. Pick up your mail promptly and deposit outgoing mail at the post office or in a post office collection box. d. Review all bills and statements promptly and notify banks and creditors of transactions you do not recognize. e. Review your credit report regularly. You are legally allowed to receive a free credit report each year from the three national credit bureaus. You can order all three reports at once or at intervals throughout the year. For

Identity theft is a perennial problem, particularly with service members. When active duty members are deployed or changing duty stations, there are concerns that people could access their credit. Especially if you’re overseas, you might not even know that it’s happening. It may be hard to be vigilant while you’re deployed or in the busy weeks before, during and after a permanent change-of- station move. Criminals who steal your personal information can use it to drain your bank account, open new lines of credit in your name or otherwise ruin your credit history and reputation. According to a 2020 report by the Identity Theft Resource Center, cyber criminals are becoming less interested in stealing large amounts of consumers’ personal information. Instead, threat actors are more interested in taking advantage of bad consumer behaviors to attack businesses using stolen credentials like logins and passwords. Due to the shift in tactics, ransomware and phishing attacks directed at organizations are now the preferred data theft method by cyber thieves. What Is Identity Theft? Identity theft occurs when someone wrongfully obtains and uses another individual’s identification information for their personal gain. Stolen information can include social security numbers, credit cards, bank statements, driver’s license numbers, employee identification codes, date of birth information, etc. Identity thieves acquire the information in various ways including: a. Stealing personal information from their employer’s records while they are at their job. b. Stealing your mail, including bank and credit card statements. c. Rummaging through your trash and/or the trash of businesses or public trash dumps. d. Completing “change of address” notices to divert your mail to another location. e. Obtaining credit report information from another party by posing as a landlord, employer or someone else. f. “Phishing” — Obtaining information directly from you by posing as a legitimate company through e-mail or a telephone inquiry. g. Stealing your wallet or purse. h. Hacking into your home computer system or a business database.

INFORMATION SOURCES: Information sources used for this discussion include the Federal Trade Commission, Social Security Administration, Federal Bureau of Investigation, www.idtheftcenter.org, and www.howstuffworks.com.


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