Marines alerted to identity theft
By Cpl. Danielle M. Bacon
| | June 28, 2004
U.S. MARINE CORPS FORCES PACIFIC, Camp Smith, Hawaii --
Recently, deployed service members were forced to deal with checks forged in their name, according to a memorandum issued by Headquarters Marine Corps, March 29.
“Marines had checks stolen and they wouldn’t find out until after they were deployed,” said Capt. Brian Keller, Deputy Head of Legal Assistance, Judge Advocate Division, Headquarters Marine Corps. “In one case, it was the victims mother who noticed checks being written, that he couldn’t have, because he was deployed to Iraq.”
Keller added, “If you're giving a power of attorney to someone, you have to be sure and give them the power to report fraud on your behalf.”
“There have been dozens of cases on the West Coast,” Keller said.
Although there is no record of a forged check identity theft scheme at Camp Smith, all Marines should be on the alert.
“People need to safeguard their information, checks and credit cards. It is situational awareness - knowing where your important information is kept and insuring no one can get to it,” said Master Sgt. Dionisios Nicholas, legal services chief, U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Pacific.
A forged check is not the only type of identity theft service members should look out for - “phishing” is another.
“Phishing” is the act of sending e-mail or Pop-up advertisements to a user in an attempt to scam the user into surrendering private information that will be used for identity theft, according to www.webopedia.com.
“Pop-ups solicit legitimate looking merchandise. They take what ever information you give them to steal your identity,” said Sgt. Kirk Goree, a network security technician. “Don’t click on any Pop-up. Delete them immediately.”
He added that the same holds true for email advertisements.
“No legitimate bank will e-mail you an advertisement for loans or an account, without you asking them to. Don’t trust e-mails from people you don’t know,” Goree said.
Not only do Pop-ups and e-mail advertisements hold the possibility of being a “Trojan horse” they can also allow hackers into your computer.
“Some people who buy a lot of stuff via the Internet often store their information on their computer. If their computer is ever compromised, the hacker can get all of that information,” said Goree.
To safeguard computers Goree recommended downloading a free firewall.
“There are many agencies out there that sell firewalls and Pop-up blockers.” Goree added, McAffee.com offers a free personal firewall to all Department of Defense employees.
“Marines should look at and keep their bank, credit card and other financial institution statements,” said Nicholas. “They should look at their spending patterns and try to notice anything out of the ordinary. Retaining statements and records will help if they ever need to dispute a purchase.”
According to a January 22, Federal Trades Commission report, of the 96 percent of those who contacted FTC to file an identity theft claim, 68 percent did not call the police department and file a police report.
If a Marine needs to make a dispute or feels he has been a victim of identity theft there are certain steps he needs to take.
- Contact the financial institution immediately, file a claim and cancel the credit card or checks that were used.
- Contact any of the three major credit bureaus, file a claim and request a credit report.
- Experian at 888-397-3742
- Equifax at 800-525-6285
- Transunion at 800-680-7289
- Contact the local authorities and file a claim.
- Honolulu Police Department at 529-3352
- Contact military authorities.
- Contact the Federal Trade Commission at http://www.consumer.gov/idtheft or file a report at the local legal assistance attorney at 477-8505.