Free Credit Monitoring for Military Servicemembers

An amendment to the Fair Credit Reporting Act requires that credit reporting bureaus offer free credit monitoring services to military servicemembers starting May 24, 2019.

On May 24, 2018, President Trump signed the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act (S. 2155) into law. Part of this new law amends the Fair Credit Reporting Act and requires the nationwide credit reporting bureaus to offer free credit monitoring to military servicemembers who are on active duty or in the National Guard.

What the New Law Requires

The new law requires the bureaus to provide free notifications when an addition or modification is added to a servicemember’s credit file. This kind of monitoring service, while free to servicemembers, is considerably more limited than what commercial credit monitoring products currently offer. Commercial products (those that you have to pay for) usually include notice about activity on your account, as well as surveillance of black market websites for your personal information and, sometimes, identity theft insurance.

Other Ways Servicemembers Can Protect Their Credit

In addition to signing up for free monitoring, servicemembers who are concerned about identity theft should also consider placing an active duty fraud alert on their credit file, as well as keeping an eye on their own credit reports.

Active duty fraud alerts. If you are on active military duty, you can add an active duty alert to your file that remains in place for 12 months. After you request a fraud alert, a creditor has to take extra steps to verify the identity of a person applying for credit in your name, like a loan or a new credit card account, before approving the transaction. (Learn more about fraud alerts, including how to add one to your credit reports.)

Monitor your own credit. Also, servicemembers can monitor their own credit by getting—and carefully reviewing—their free credit reports from the three major credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion). You’re entitled to one free report every twelve months. So, if you stagger your requests—for instance, by getting one report every four months—you can monitor your credit for free yourself at three different times over a one-year period. When it’s time to request your report, go to AnnualCreditReport.com. Then, review the report for errors and inaccuracies and be sure to dispute any incorrect information.

When Servicemembers May Get Free Credit Monitoring

The law requiring credit bureaus to offer free credit monitoring services to military personnel goes into effect one year from the date that the president signed the law. (To learn about other legal protections for military servicemembers under federal law, see Legal Protections for America's Military: The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act.)

Effective date: May 24, 2019