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Equifax Credit-Agency Hack Could Hit Service Members Especially Hard
Sometime between May and July, 143 million Americans had their personal financial information exposed when Equifax — one of the nation’s top credit reporting agencies — experienced an online security breach. Experts now warn the hack, which became public on Sept. 7, could disproportionately impact active-duty service members who are especially vulnerable to identity theft.
“According to public data on consumer complaints, military consumers report identity theft at roughly double the rate of the general public,” Consumer Federation of America senior fellow Rohit Chopra wrote in a CFA blog post Sept. 11. “Stealing sensitive information about members of the military, particularly those deployed from their normal duty station, doesn’t just raise national security concerns. It can also create financial nightmares for servicemembers and their families.”
In the Equifax breach, hackers stole everything from birth dates and home addresses to Social Security numbers and driver’s license numbers — and more.
“About 209,000 Americans had their credit card numbers stolen, and criminals hacked into certain financial dispute documents with personal identifying information for about 182,000 consumers,” Military Times reported.
Because of frequent moves and time spent without access to internet or banking services while deployed, service members are prime targets for identity thieves — and often don’t catch the signs until it’s too late.
“Since active-duty service members frequently move due to Permanent Change of Station orders, this can make it even harder to quickly learn if they’ve had their identities stolen,” Chopra wrote.
That said, service members may have legal options that other consumers don’t. “If you are serving in uniform, the law gives you the right to place an Active Duty Alert on your credit report,” Chopra wrote. “This will ensure that lenders take extra steps to verify your identity before opening a new account in your name.”
The three major consumer credit reporting agencies — Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion — each have a web page where service members can request the alert.
“The alert lasts for one year and is renewable,” Chopra wrote. “Your name will also be removed from pre-screened offers for credit and insurance products for two years, unless you say that you want them.”
Equifax team members are also reportedly warning consumers when their personal information has been accessed by outside sources via email.
Little is known about the source of the hack, but the Federal Trade Commission is on the case.
"The FTC typically does not comment on ongoing investigations,” spokesman Peter Kaplan said in an email exchange with Reuters. “However, in light of the intense public interest and the potential impact of this matter, I can confirm that FTC staff is investigating the Equifax data breach.”
MIAMI (Reuters) - U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper suggested on Thursday he could be ready to start a highly anticipated global force repositioning this year as part of an effort to refocus the Pentagon on challenges from China and Russia.
Esper said he did not want to put a firm timeline on the completion of his so-called "defense-wide review," which is expected to trigger those troop movements.
"If I had to put an end-date (on the review), I want to make sure we are in some type of better posture by the beginning of the next fiscal year," Esper told reporters, referring to the government's calendar year for spending, which begins on Oct. 1. "So I want to move fairly quickly."
Editor's Note: This article originally appeared on Radio Free Europe/Radio Free Liberty.
A trial for a German-Afghan national suspected of spying for Iranian intelligence is set to commence on January 20 in the city of Koblenz in Germany.
Identified as Abdul Hamid S. according to Germany privacy laws, the 51-year-old former interpreter and adviser for the German armed forces, or Bundeswehr, was arrested a year ago in the Rhineland region of western Germany and accused of providing information to Iranian intelligence for many years.
BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Tens of thousands of Iraqis rallied in central Baghdad on Friday calling for the expulsion of U.S. troops, but the protest mostly dissipated after a few hours despite fears of violence following a cleric's call for a "million strong" turnout.
Populist cleric Moqtada al-Sadr convened the march after the U.S. killing of an Iranian general and an Iraqi paramilitary chief in Baghdad this month. His eventual decision to hold it away from a separate anti-government protest camp, and away from the U.S. embassy, looked pivotal in keeping the march peaceful.
STOCKTON — Diane Wright opened the door of an apartment at The Oaks at Inglewood, the assisted care facility in Stockton where she is the executive director. Inside, three people busily went through postal trays crammed with envelopes near a table heaped with handmade gifts, military memorabilia, blankets, quilts, candy and the like.
Operation Valentine has generated a remarkable outpouring of support from around the world for retired United States Marine, Maj. Bill White. Earlier this month, a resident at The Oaks, Tony Walker, posted a request on social media to send Valentine's Day cards to the 104-year-old World War II veteran and recipient of the Purple Heart.
Walker believed Maj. White would enjoy adding the cards to his collection of memorabilia. The response has been greater than anyone ever thought possible.