Keep Identity Safe
Story Number: NNS031028-04
Release Date: 10/28/2003 12:08:00 PM
By Journalist 3rd Class Rebecca Schall, USS John F. Kennedy Public Affairs
ABOARD USS JOHN F. KENNEDY (NNS) -- "It's one of the fastest growing
crimes in America," said Joe Bellinger, special agent to the Naval
Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS), who serves aboard USS John
F. Kennedy (CV 67). "Identity theft is one of the easiest things
to fall victim to if you're not careful."
Identity theft happens when one person acquires key pieces of someone else's
information such as, name, address and social security number to commit fraud.
This information enables thieves to write checks, open credit card accounts
and make costly purchases. According to Bellinger, several Sailors have already
fallen victim to identity theft, including some aboard JFK.
"Some people don't realize they have fallen victim to identity theft until they
try to apply for a loan or line of credit and they are denied," said Bellinger. "The
person then looks up his or her credit report and finds charges, usually adding
up to thousands of dollars, they never made."
Once fraudulent charges have been made, it's often difficult - but not impossible
to repair the damage.
"Sailors should order a credit report from all three bureaus once a year just
as a precautionary measure," said Lt. Evan Stanley, Kennedy's legal officer. "Once
the fraud is committed, there isn't a lot we can do about it, so Sailors should
try their best to prevent it."
Stanley said the first step Sailors should take when they see an unauthorized
charge on a statement is file a police report in the city where the charges
were made. He also said they should call the bank which finances the card and
change the number.
"If someone opened a card under your name, but used his address, you should contact
a credit bureau and a notary to prove that the card was not opened by you," said
According to Bellinger, Sailors can take several preventative measures to protect
themselves and those they love.
"Sailors should try and keep track of all their personal information.
"Whenever you receive e-mails or letters from people requesting your information,
don't give it to them," said Bellinger. "You should always destroy any mail that
has your personal information on it before throwing it in the garbage."
Bellinger also advises Sailors responsible for handling official records or
paperwork with potentially sensitive personal information to be especially
"Treat the information like a pile of cash," said Belligner. "Because essentially,
that's what it is."
For more information on how to prevent or recover from identity theft, or to
report a case of fraud, visit the NCIS web site at www.ncis.navy.mil/idtheft and
click on the "special" link.