Beginning in September, military members will be able to request complimentary credit monitoring services from the three major credit agencies, subject to certain restrictions.
These free credit monitoring services, which ordinarily cost $30 or more a month, can assist troops in managing their money by informing them when anything changes to their credit reports. Armed troops can then intervene if fraud or other problems are discovered early enough.
New Rules for Free Credit Monitoring
The Federal Trade Commission’s final regulations, which will soon be published in the Federal Register, do contain a warning. Due to the way the law is written, most individuals who qualify for free credit monitoring are “assigned to service remote from the typical duty station of the consumer.” This covers both active-duty personnel and reserve personnel serving under Title 10 orders.
National Guard members do not need to be deployed from their “regular duty location,” according to the FTC, in order to qualify for the free credit monitoring service. This is so that National Guard personnel are on the list of those who are entitled to free credit monitoring, but Congress did not impose the requirement that a Guard member must be away from his or her usual place of duty. The FTC notices the blatant unfairness.
Insofar as Congress intended to provide free credit monitoring more generally, the [FTC] calls on Congress to settle this issue through additional legislation, according to a news release from the FTC announcing the new regulation. The Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act of 2018 has made additional benefits available to service members.
The FTC final rule states that defense authorities had previously recommended that the FTC broaden the definition to be compatible with the concept of active duty under the military compensation Act, which does not call for a service member to be deployed outside of their regular duty station.
Another issue, especially when it comes to confirming deployments, is the ability of credit reporting bureaus to determine who is eligible for the free service. The FTC is giving advice to credit reporting companies to “err on the side of giving the free service more broadly.” The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) will deem a credit reporting agency in compliance with the law if it provides free electronic credit monitoring services to consumers who self-certify their active duty status, consumers who self-certify they are a reservist on active duty under Title 10 orders, and consumers who self-certify they are members of the National Guard. As a result, it will be less likely that a qualified military buyer will be turned away. The credit reporting companies will decide whether to offer this advantage to more service personnel.
According to the FTC’s final rule, a confirmation of a person’s active duty status from a credit reporting agency is valid for two years. The credit reporting agency may then request that the consumer provide further supporting paperwork.
A military customer is not required to notify the credit reporting bureau after returning to the service station, according to FTC spokeswoman Juliana Gruenwald.
The three major national credit reporting companies, Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion, are still working out the specifics of how military members can sign up for the free credit monitoring, according to the FTC.
These services notify customers of material additions to their credit files, such as new accounts opened in their names, changes to their address, name, or phone number, and adjustments to their credit limits. Consumer inquiries or requests for consumer reports that aren’t made for pre-screening or account review also fall under this category.
These credit reports include information on your address, whether you pay your debts on time and how much you owe, as well as if you’ve ever been sued, imprisoned, or declared bankruptcy, as well as information about your payment history. The data is used to make decisions regarding lending you money, renting you an apartment, and, most importantly for many in the military, determining whether or not to give you a security clearance. Additionally, in accordance with current legislation, authorities continuously investigate everybody who contributes to national security, including service members, by looking into their financial backgrounds.
Customers that make use of these proactive monitoring services are able to see any fraud or problems at an early stage and take prompt action.
They won’t be charged to view their credit reports if individuals in the military are alerted that a substantial change has taken place. In accordance with the final regulation, a credit reporting agency is required to give a consumer unrestricted access to the file in addition to notifying them that their credit file has been modified.
Military clients won’t be charged to examine their credit reports if they receive notice of a significant change. A consumer must be given free access to their credit file by the credit reporting agency if they are informed of such a revision to their file, according to the final rule.
The legislation permitting this expanded free access did not include a timeline for the credit reporting companies to start providing free monitoring. However, they gave the FTC a year from May 24, 2018, the date the law was passed, to create the regulations implementing it.
As a result, the FTC set a three-month deadline following the Federal Register publication of the new regulations. The FTC has stated that they will allow credit reporting agencies to continue offering their current commercial credit monitoring service for free to service members for up to a year after the rule’s effective date, acknowledging the possibility that they may need more time to create systems to accept documentation of active duty service and to make changes in their systems to generate alerts about the changes. Visit this page for information on how to get military verification completed.