Army striving to combat identity theft
January 30, 2004
(Army News Service, Jan. 30, 2004) - The Army is working to ensure that thieves can't
steal the personal information of Soldiers, their families and Army
Over the past five years, 27 million American adults have been victims
of identity theft, according to the Federal Trade Commission's 2003
Identity Theft Survey Report.
"Identity theft was the number two most reported crime to the federal government in 2003, and it is on the rise," said
Peter D. Anzulewicz, information assurance analyst, Army Web Risk Assessment
The Army Web Risk Assessment Cell in the Information Assurance Directorate will
release a distance learning training course on Feb. 1 that contains a section
on DoD and Army Web site policy and an interactive Web site. The interactive
Web site will test Web administrators' knowledge of the policies.
"The distance learning training course will teach Web administrators what is and is not permitted on publicly accessible Army Web sites," Anzulewicz
"We have been working with other Department of Defense agencies to minimize the risk of identity theft through the removal of inappropriate personal information from Army publicly accessible Web sites during the AWRAC review of Web content," Anzulewicz
For example, commanders' biographies on the Web no longer list the names of family
members. The publicly accessible Web sites should only list office names and
phone numbers. The only names on the Web sites should be Army spokespeople, Anzulewicz
Anzulewicz explained that it is imperative for securing personal information
that Web administrators, Web masters and commanders understand the DoD and Army's Web policies. "Criminals don't have to be clever to steal identities; they are just a keyboard away," he
In 2003 alone, consumers reported losses totaling more than $400 million from fraud, according to Consumer Sentinel, the complaint database maintained by the FTC.
Under the Identity Theft and Assumption Deterrence Act, it is a federal crime when someone transfers or uses a means of identification of another person with the intent to commit any unlawful activity that constitutes a violation of Federal law.
Identity theft takes only minutes for thieves to accomplish while recovering from identity theft takes months to years for the victims of this serious crime, Anzulewicz said.
He said it is more dangerous when Soldiers become victims of identity theft.
"If a Soldier in Baghdad has his credit card stolen, the criminal will max it out without his knowledge. Then, his wife back in the states can't buy food for the kids. The Soldier is thinking of his family starving back in the states. Identity theft makes Soldiers ineffective and puts them in harms way," Anzulewicz
Three common ways of stealing identities exist. "Most identity thieves take personal information out of mailboxes or trash cans," Anzulewicz said. However, the Internet is a growing outlet for criminals, he said "People give their personal information away everyday on the Internet," Anzulewicz
He said Soldiers and their families can protect themselves from identity theft by being cautious of giving out their personal information.
"Also, make sure you check your credit card bills for abnormal charges. Invest in a shredder and shred all of your personal information before throwing it away," he
If your credit card is missing or stolen, Anzulewicz said immediately call the
credit card company. "Ask that a 'fraud alert' be placed in your file," he said.
Furthermore, he advises people to order an annual copy of their credit report
from the three credit reporting agencies - Equifax, Trans Union and Experian.
Check for accuracy on the reports and make sure the activities listed were authorized.
Identity theft victims should call the Federal Trade Commission Identity Theft Hotline at 1-877-ID-THEFT, Anzulewicz said. When people call the hotline, trained personnel guide them through the steps needed to resolve their issues resulting from identity theft.
For more information on identity theft, go to the Federal Trade Commission's
Web site at http://www.consumer.gov/idtheft/.