CFPB reminds active duty service members to contact lenders

September 3, 2015

WASHINGTON (9/3/15)--The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) reminded military servicemembers to alert their credit union or other lenders when they are going on active duty.

Deployed servicemembers have options to protect their credit reports when deployed, but according to the CFPB, few take advantage of this resource. The bureau released a fact sheet Wednesday examining ways servicemembers can protect their credit while on active duty.

Military personnel have three options to report that they are on duty, each notifying lenders or other users of credit reports that the person connected to the report is on military duty. All alerts require lenders to take reasonable steps to verify the identity of any individual requesting credit under the servicemembers identity.

The three types of alerts are:

  • Active Duty Alert, available to those who are on active duty and assigned to service away from their usual duty station. This alert notifies credit reporting companies of military status, limiting new credit offers while away. The alert lasts for 12 months, but can be removed sooner, and the servicemember’s name will be removed for two years from nationwide credit reporting companies’ pre-screening lists for credit and insurance offers;
  • Initial Fraud Alert, available if a servicemember has a “good faith suspicion” that they have been or will be the victim of fraud or identity theft. The alert lasts 90 days, but can be removed sooner, and entitles the servicemember to one free consumer credit report, in addition to the free report all consumers are entitled to; and
  • Extended Fraud Alert, for victims who have been victims of identity theft and have filed an identity theft report with a national credit reporting company. It lasts seven years, but can be removed sooner, and gives the servicemember the right to two additional free consumer credit reports. The servicemember will be removed from pre-screening lists for five years.

According to the CFPB, more than 650 active-duty servicemembers have submitted complaints to the bureau about their credit reports since October 2012. Less than 1% of those servicemembers reported putting an Active Duty Alert in place before leaving for active duty.

 The CFPB also posted a blog entry Wednesday explaining the process for the alerts, as well as other options.