You can take steps to protect your finances and credit while you’re protecting our country. Before you ship out on a military deployment, read these tips and talk with your family.
Get your financial house in order
Make sure your financial records are accurate and up-to-date. This means giving your husband or wife (who will be paying the bills for the next several months) all bank account and credit card numbers, a record of assets and outstanding debts, a list of typical expenses such as rent and utilities, and all phone numbers and addresses necessary for dealing with financial matters.
Consider granting a power of attorney
Granting a power of attorney to your spouse or another trusted family member will allow that person to handle financial matters in your absence. They’ll have the legal right to sign important papers and take other actions on your behalf. Military installation legal assistance offices can help service men and women set up a power of attorney.
Power of attorney gives the person considerable authority to spend your money and take on new debt in your name. If you are not comfortable granting that much control, the power of attorney can be limited to a specific area of your financial affairs. It can also be limited to a certain period of time. A limited power of attorney can be revoked by you at any time by filing notice with the county Register of Deeds.
Take care of taxes
Before deployment, decide how your taxes will be filed and who will file them. If your spouse will be taking on tax duty for the first time, make sure he or she has all necessary documents. The IRS also allows military personnel to file for an extension by using Form 2350.
Watch out for scams
Military spouses should be especially careful while their husband or wife is away on active duty. Beware of work-from-home scams and home repair scams.
Guard your identity
There’s another threat that you may face while serving your country—the threat of identity theft. The risk of ID theft can be higher while you’re on active duty because it can be more difficult to watch over your credit. Take steps to protect your identity, like getting a free security freeze. A security freeze stops credit reporting agencies from releasing any information about you to new creditors without your approval. That can stop identity thieves from getting new credit in your name.
An Active Duty alert is another way of getting protection against ID theft while you are away from your usual duty station.