A recent NY Times report is critical
of the daily use of the military's use social security
numbers (SSN)and birth dates, and how poorly Personal
Identifiable Information (PII) is managed. Army intelligence officer turned
West Point professor Lt. Col. Gregory Conti co-authored a report entitled "The Military's Cultural Disregard for Personal Information"
published at smallwarsjournal.com
starts "Identity theft is not simply an inconvenience; it can lead
to long-term financial and legal difficulties for individuals and families."
The report includes more than a dozen examples of misuse of PII including:
Security numbers and dates of birth are exposed to foreign customs officials
when traveling on official orders.
Security numbers are exposed, all or in part, to contracted transportation
companies and truck drivers during military moves.
military organizations use portions of Social Security numbers in email
addresses and as computer user names.
recently, a Service Academy Alumni Association published books listing all
graduate's dates of birth. Copies are available on Ebay.
members, and their family members, frequently provide their Security
number-laden military identification card to merchants, clerks, and night club
bouncers for military discounts or as proof of age.
members in Iraq, Afghanistan, and other foreign countries must show their
military identification card to locally contracted, foreign national security
guards to gain entrance.
When I was in the Army Reserves 40
years ago the use of SSN was common place including our uniforms, and no one
seemed concerned about identity theft. But in our Social Media world of 2010
clearly the US military needs to do something to help our troops and their
families....sooner rather than later. This is a serious problem.