Thursday, January 19, 2006

In the Sandbox...

Information Used Too Freely

My command is continually informing our members by word, classes and electronic mailings about the importance of operations security. This is, of course, important to the success of the mission.

Another type of security is of equal importance and that is personal security. My concern was with a posting of information in my barracks. It listed everyone in the command who was having a birthday in the next month. On that list was full names, birthdates and Social Security numbers. Too many times, and more so since I have been deployed to the Middle East, I have been requested to give all this information to someone — if you have a change in watch section, have a new physical fitness coordinator, or for some evaluation input sheet, training class or course. Whatever the reason, it seems this information is readily given to anyone who asks.

One servicemember I spoke with explained how his information was compromised and someone had purchased a motorcycle under his name and information. That person then wrecked it and the servicemember had a visit by the local authorities, followed by court appearances to clear himself of charges made against him.

The littlest information about you can cause some major financial hardships and is so freely given for reasons that appear to be nothing more than to ensure your identity. A Social Security number should be used only in the case of pay or tax purposes, and even then, by an official representative or the member himself.

I suggest that if another number for identification purposes is needed, we should go back to the use of Service Serial numbers, which would not be used to affect our financial status, but could be used to identify individual servicemembers for tracking, records and the like.

-Petty Officer 1st Class John Fornbacher, Kuwait (Stars & Stripes: Letters to the Editor)

...girls of the Air Force...
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