Military Connection: Protecting Vets from ID Theft: By Joe Silva

By Debbie Gregory

 

ID theft

 

In today’s information age, people need to be very careful about what information that they give out. Military Veterans are not exempted from identity theft. In fact, Veterans are some of the biggest targets of identity theft.

One of the pieces of information that many Veterans don’t realize that they need to protect is their military discharge, form DD-214, and similar documents.

I’ve talked with Veterans who said that they email their DD-214s to employers when filing out applications and sending their resumes. They leave them at interviews like they’re business cards, and they send them as .doc attachments to any club they wish to join, or any internet seller offering them a Veteran’s discount.

This is a very, very dangerous practice, and not enough Veterans know that they need to safeguard these documents. No club or vendor should ever need your full SSN on the document. If they say that they do, then I would not trust them. Some may ask for the last 4 digits of your social and that is fine.

If a DD-14 is required, you can provide it or any other important document in the following way:

It is recommended whenever proof of service is required, black out all or all but the last 4 digits of your Social Security. The best way to do this would be to copy your original document and black out your SSN with a black marker. You can scan the blacked out copy to your computer and save as a PDF file.

PDF files are recommended because they cannot be altered as easily as Word docs and other files. You can scan the document directly into a PDF file or click save as on a Word doc and select  saving the file as a PDF on the dropdown of the save box that pops on your screen.

You can print out the alternate copies of your documents and give those to employers on interviews. If they ask for the original, that is fine, bring the original to show your employer, but be sure that you give them a copy of the original only.

Veterans should safeguard their DD-214 and all documents by keeping electronic copies, and not providing the documents and their contents indiscriminately. Veterans should also have their credit checked at least once every year to make sure that there are no surprises due to identity theft when they try to apply for credit or a loan, or even employment.

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Military Connection: Protecting Vets from ID Theft: By Joe Silva