Americans lost nearly $7 billion in cyber crimes since 2021, according to the FBI, and one of the most targeted groups were veterans and active-duty military members and their familes.
7 On Your Side looks at why, and what service members and civilians can do to protect themselves from digital crime.
Naval Reserve officer Jeff Chin was deployed to Afghanistan, all over the Middle East and across the U.S. Each time he got online to keep in touch with family or relocated, he was an open target for ID theft.
"People took my social security number, my personal address, birthdates, passport. They tried to open up credit card accounts," said Chin, who is the Executive Director of Blue Star Families New England chapter.
Blue Star helps and supports military members, veterans and their families.
Veterans like Chin and active-duty military are disproportionately affected by an unseen enemy, according to a recent study by consumer digital security company Aura.
Sixty percent of civilians said that they had been victims of some type of digital crime compared to 71% of veterans.
"They were in the government data base which had been breached," Hilary Donnell said.
Donnell heads up corporate responsibility at Aura and says their cybercrime prevention teams were shocked at the stats. Their research show veterans and active-duty military members using their social security numbers as IDs are an easy way in for hacker to stage attacks.
She cites several additional reasons for military vulnerability including: access to government benefits, primary use of social media, public Wi-Fi usage, sharing locations and frequent relocation.
Military members, their families and the general public can benefit from a battleplan.
They are urged to beware of spies on social media that could target you through text and emails. Know the enemy and don't be fooled by fake websites or phony caller ID. Don't store ID ammo like passwords.
They are also warned not to share their location, and are asked to change privacy settings and use a VPN.
Active-duty service members can get free credit monitoring from all three credit bureaus and enjoy half off for digital protection from Aura.
The company says for those who risked their lives to protect us we should protect them from cybercrime as well.
Make sure you check restaurants and services and products for military discounts to save money!
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