How Military Families Can Stay Safe Online During a PCS Move

September 13, 2022

Did you know that each year, more than 400,000 military families relocate to a new duty station? For military families, a permanent change of station—or PCS—can be both exciting and stressful. 

For any family - military or otherwise - the chaos of a move can translate to higher than usual risk of fraud, identity theft and other digital attacks. A relocation might for example mean sensitive documents containing personal information are left behind or discarded quickly, using public, shared or unsecured WiFi in hotels or airports and mail or credit card offers being sent to old addresses. 

But military families are already at significantly higher risk of identity theft and digital banking fraud, making the summer PCS season an especially critical time to take a proactive approach in managing family online safety. That’s why we at Aura, FOSI member and provider of intelligent safety solutions for consumers, recently published a guide and checklist for online safety in PCS season, to help military families protect their information, finances and families before, during and after a move.  

Have an active-duty service member in your life? We at Aura encourage you to share the following, most crucial tips from our PCS guide, the next time they (or any families you know planning a move, civilians included) are preparing to relocate. We also have more general online safety resources designed to help protect military families year round from cybercriminals targeting them as a result of their access to confidential, government information, tendency to use communal WiFi or internet wired through a foreign government, data being leaked during government breaches, and frequent travel overseas, leaving accounts unmonitored for long periods of time.

Before Relocation

  1. Before relocating, be sure to set up mail forwarding with USPS and update account information with your new address to prevent mail - preapproved credit offers included - being sent to an old address, where it could fall into ill-intentioned hands.
  2. Avoid posting about your new home on social media. It may be tempting to share your news but fraudsters monitor social media in an attempt to gather enough information to commit identity theft or fraud.
  3. Shred documents containing sensitive personal or government information that aren’t relocating with you to avoid dumpster divers selling your data on the dark web. 
  4. Reconsider who you trust with personal information or Powers of Attorney when relocating or going abroad. Active-duty military are twice as likely than civilians to report identity theft by someone they know according to the FTC.

During a Move

  1. Prevent unauthorized access to devices by setting up password protection and/or multi-factor authentication. 
  2. Set up device tracking in case any devices are lost or stolen during the move. 
  3. Use a virtual private network (VPN) when using shared or public Wi-Fi networks to establish a secure and private connection. 
  4. Monitor your accounts and bank statements, and watch for notifications of data breaches. Change any passwords or login credentials that may have been compromised.
  5. Be protective of your personal data. Don’t share your SSN unless absolutely necessary or say it aloud while others may overhear, and make sure any SSNs you write down, like for a doctor, are being protected or shredded.

Settling Into A New Home Securely

  1. Set up secure, private home WiFi to protect your family, data and devices from hackers.
  2. Activate device protections, such as multi-factor authentication, screen locks and antivirus software. These methods help keep thieves out and devices secure.
  3. As you look for new furniture or home decor, shop securely. Purchase only from trusted retailers and websites, read reviews and watch out for scams. If the deal seems too good to be true, it probably is. 
  4. Finally, organize and check important paperwork. Make sure boxes - especially those containing sensitive family information or documents like birth certificates or Social Security cards haven’t been tampered with or are missing.

Online safety doesn’t have to be daunting. 

At Aura, we understand firsthand how daunting it can be to take control of your digital life. That’s why we created easy-to-use, all-in-one digital security protection to keep you and your family’s personal information, devices, and finances safe from online threats. It combines everything you need to proactively control your digital life - credit monitoring, lost wallet recovery, antivirus, VPN, multi-device protection, and monitors financial transactions, bank accounts, SSN, the dark web, home and title use, and criminal and court records to keep your finances and your identity safe and secure. And in the event of an issue, our U.S.-based customer service team is available by phone and email to help you resolve problems, and our plans are backed with insurance to cover eligible losses and fees due to identity theft. Learn more at aura.com/military.

Written by

Howard Clabo

Howard Clabo is Chief Communications Officer (CCO) at Aura, a mission-driven technology company dedicated to creating a safer and more accessible internet for everyone. As CCO, Howard is responsible for communicating the power of digital wellness to improve consumers' security, while bettering the lives of those most vulnerable to online threats through education, engagement and other forms of support.  

Prior to joining Aura, Howard led communications for Fortune 500 companies including Hewlett-Packard, Applied Materials and FedEx. As SVP, Global Communications at Hewlett-Packard, Howard led communications in support of the largest corporate turnaround in history, the largest corporate separation, creating two $50 billion companies, and the subsequent spin-off and mergers of HPE's Enterprise Services and Software businesses, creating the world's second largest IT services company and sixth  largest software company. Howard is a father of two girls and holds an BA in Political Science from Tulane University.