Do you know how to protect yourself from fraud?

EIELSON AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska -- If you were stopped on the street and someone said to you, "Hey, I think I've just been a victim of fraud, what do I do?" How would you answer the question? Do you know what fraud is?

You may have heard or read news reports on a company that entered into a contract with the U.S. government for a product or a service of some type and that company did not comply with the requirements of the contract. What you may not know is whether the non-compliance was a problem - a problem that could cost a life.

What if the same company produced aircraft brake pads for the Air Force using cheaper, lower quality or counterfeit materials that broke apart after the third or fourth landing when they were supposed to be a high-quality product able to stand several hundred landings?

How could a product as simple as a brake pad impact the Air Force's overall mission? Instead of a brake pad problem, what if this was a fraudulent act that affected your food and housing supplemental pay that went unnoticed for two or three months because of a deployment?

What if someone used your personal information stored in military programs to open credit under your name? What do you do and how do you report the problem?

The Air Force Office of Special Investigations fraud program tests allegations of possible fraud in an effort to identify, neutralize, and prevent fraudulent threats to the Air Force's procurement and financial systems as well as fraudulent acts against military members when they occur on military bases.

AFOSI does this by conducting investigations and operations, identifying and reporting systemic weaknesses and internal control deficiencies, as well as teaming with customers (you/your office) to jointly detect and defeat fraud.

In addition to product substitution involving substandard or defective products, AFOSI looks at public corruption (bribery, kickbacks, and embezzlement - use of position violations), violations of Anti-Trust laws (Sherman Act, bid rigging - one vendor always wins the contract when competition is available), cost mischarging (false labor charges or overcharging labor costs), defective pricing (false invoice), environmental crimes (intentional hazardous waste spills or leaving hazardous materials at trash sites vice proper disposal), pay and allowance violations (claiming false dependents for BAH/COLA), identity theft, Government Travel Card violations/theft, Government Purchase Cards violations/theft, and fraudulent activities that affect Morale, Welfare and Recreation programs or the Army Air Force Exchange Service.

You suspect fraud has occurred, so what do you do? Contact your local AFOSI detachment and request either the agent on duty or the fraud agent. Once in contact with an agent, explain the circumstances of what happened and why you think this may be a fraud or criminal act. AFOSI may request additional information if the matter is within AFOSI purview or direct you to the appropriate agency.

How can AFOSI assist your unit and create awareness on fraud and criminal matters? AFOSI can assist with providing fraud or criminal awareness briefings. Incorporating AFOSI into in-house training may prevent or deter fraud, waste, and abuse issues inside the unit. If you suspect identity theft, check your credit report online. If you find an account that you didn't open, contact the credit reporting agency to notify them of the discrepancy.

If the identity theft occurred on a military base, then AFOSI can work with you for a resolution. If the identity theft has occurred off-base, contact the local authorities and file a report. Call (877) ID-THEFT or use the ID theft report form on http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/microsites/idtheft/. You will also receive a booklet from the Federal Trade Counsel with step-by-step instructions on what to do to clear your name.