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Service Members Face New Threat: Identity Theft


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Lt. Col. Greg Conti

Lt. Col. Greg Conti, who now teaches at West Point, is an Army intelligence officer who helped write a critical report on how the military relies on Social Security numbers in daily interactions.

Suzanne DeChillo/The New York Times

The government warns Americans to closely guard their Social Security numbers. But it has done a poor job of protecting those same numbers for millions of people: the nation’s soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines.

At bases and outposts at home and around the world, military personnel continue to use their Social Security numbers as personal identifiers in dozens of everyday settings, from filling out health forms to checking out basketballs at the gym. Thousands of soldiers in Iraq even stencil the last four digits onto their laundry bags.

All of this is putting members of the military at heightened risk for identity theft.

That is the conclusion of a scathing new report written by an Army intelligence officer turned West Point professor, Lt. Col. Gregory Conti. The report concludes that the military needs to rid itself of a practice that has been widespread since the 1960s.

From The New York Times
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