Even as social security numbers have become a primary source of identity theft, the military needlessly exposes its personnel to identity theft with the frequent use of personal Social Security numbers, according to a scathing new report by a former Army intelligence officer.

Currently, military personnel use their Social Security numbers at bases and outposts around the world as personal identifiers for numerous military procedures, including filling out Department of Defense forms and even for checking into a gym.

Yet Lt. Col. Gregory Conti, a former Army intelligence officer who is now a professor at West Point, is advocating that all military branches discontinue the use of Social Security numbers as the primary means of tracking its personnel.

“In an era when an individual’s Social Security number and date of birth have become the keys to identity theft, the ubiquitous use of the Social Security number by the military services is reckless,” Conti writes in a report co-authored with other military personnel.

“The end result is that service members and their families are burdened with a work environment that shows little regard for their personal information, leaving them vulnerable to identity theft, fraud, and other malicious activities,” Conti writes in a report co-authored with other military personnel.

Conti and the other authors suggest a return to a service number system, a practice that was replaced by using Social Security numbers in the 1960s.

Military representatives say they are taking steps to fix the problem. The Defense Department said Social Security numbers will no longer appear on new military ID cards beginning in May. The Defense Department and Navy are both conducting reviews where each department has to either justify the use of Social Security numbers in paperwork, or remove them…read more.

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