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Military at high risk for identity theft

NEW YORK, Dec. 7 (UPI) -- Military personnel are at high risk for identity theft because of the way their Social Security numbers are used, a report by an intelligence expert concludes.

Lt. Col. Gregory Conti, who served in Army intelligence before becoming a professor at West Point, told The New York Times soldiers are required to give their Social Security numbers as identifiers for dozens of everyday activities.

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Those activities range from filling out health forms to checking out basketballs at the gym.

"Service members and their families are burdened with a work environment that shows little regard for their personal information," Conti's report said.

Twenty soldiers at Fort Hood, Texas, were among the victims of a gang of identity thieves indicted in New York in June.

Officials said at the time that some of the soldiers were singled out because they were stationed overseas and would be slow to catch on to the fraud.

A spokesman for the Army said Colonel Conti's report was "absolutely factual."

Representatives of the military told the Times they are aware of the problem and are taking steps to fix it.

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