Protect personal information to prevent stolen identity
June 7, 2013
By Gayle Olson
Fort Huachuca, Az. - In 2012, identity theft was the number-one complaint filed with the Federal Trade Commission, or FTC. In 2011, Arizona was the number-one state in complaints of identity theft. Since 2003 Arizona has ranked either first or second nationally in reports of identity theft, according to the Arizona Identity Theft Coalition. Arizona was the first state to enact an identity theft law in 1996 and is a mandatory report state.
Help prevent identity theft
Protect personal information with these tips from the FTC booklet "Identity Theft: What to Know, What to Do."
Read credit reports. People have a right to a free credit report every 12 months from each of the three nationwide credit reporting companies. Order all three reports at once, or order one report every four months. Contact 1.877.322.8228 or annualcreditreport.com.
Read bank, credit card and account statements, and the explanation of medical benefits from your health plan. If a statement has mistakes or doesn't arrive on time, contact the business.
Shred all documents that show personal, financial and medical information.
Don't respond to email, text and phone messages that ask for personal information. Legitimate companies don't request such information this way. Delete the messages.
Create passwords that mix letters, numbers and special characters. Don't use the same password for multiple accounts.
Shopping or banking online? Use websites that protect financial information with encryption. An encrypted site has "https" at the beginning of the Web address. "S" stands for secure.
When using a public wireless network, don't send information to any website that isn't fully encrypted.
Use anti-virus, anti-spyware software and a firewall on your computer.
Set your computer's operating system, Web browser and security system to update automatically.
FTC brochures on identity theft prevention and what to do if your identity is stolen are available from the Fort Huachuca Directorate of Human Resources Administrative Services Directorate, 533.3932. There are checklists and sample letters available at http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0281-sample-letters-and-forms-victims-identity-theft.
Special protection for deploying military
Military personnel who deploy should put an "active duty alert" on their credit report if they don't expect to seek new credit. The alert requires creditors to take steps to verify people's identities before granting credit in their name. It lasts for a year but can be renewed. Call the fraud department of one credit reporting company; they must contact the other two.
Avoid putting PII on AKO
The Army Privacy Office, or APO, issued a reminder last month to protect personally identifiable information, or PII, by not posting it online in Army Knowledge Online (AKO), SharePoint or shared network drives. According to the document, the office of the Army Web Risk Assessment Cell, or AWRAC, is conducting periodic reviews of folders created within AKO and searching for PII that has not been properly password protected. As a result, numerous folders which contain PII and visible to anyone with AKO access are discovered daily.
According to AR 25-1, Army Knowledge Management and Information Technology, official email users are required to encrypt sensitive information such as PII for transmission via email. Additionally, sensitive information transmitted in email messages must be clearly labeled to show its sensitivity, such as "Sensitive -- Privacy Act Information."
PII includes, but is not limited to, Social Security number; age; military rank; civilian grade; marital status; race; salary; home/office phone numbers; other demographic; biometric; personnel; medical and financial information unique and linked to a specific individual. This information can be used to distinguish or trace an individual's identity.
Transmit safely with special app
The U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Research, Development and Engineering Center Safe Access File Exchange is an application for securely exchanging unclassified files containing PII that are too large to send by email. The recipient receives an email with a temporary password and has up to two weeks to download the documents. The application is available at https://safe.amrdec.army.mil/SAFE/Welcome.aspx. The file size limit is up to a total of two gigabytes.
Privacy Act Campaign underway
Operations Order 13-112, U.S. Army Installation Management Command (IMCOM) Privacy Act Campaign, instructed all garrison Directorate of Human Resources Administrative Services Directorates to conduct a Privacy Act, or PA, campaign to inform the working communities on how to protect, prevent loss and reduce PA violations. Their intent is to have fewer PA breaches across IMCOM and the Army by getting in front of PA breach issues in order to save IMCOM time, manpower and money needed to process them. This article is part of that campaign.