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WASHINGTON — Defense officials are moving toward eliminating paper pay stubs, and Internet-savvy servicemembers will be the first to see theirs disappear.

Troops using the defense department’s online myPay system to check their finances will no longer receive paper leave and earnings statements, a move designed to prevent identity theft and save money.

Anyone who has signed up on the three-year-old Web site, www.mypay.gov, until now has had the option to receive LES’s both online and mailed in print form.

But as of Sept. 1, paper copies of the LES and W-2 tax forms will only be supplied on request, and troops who wish to view those documents will have to log in to their myPay account.

Servicemembers and defense employees who have not used the site in the past will still receive paper copies of their pay documents.

Claudia Bogard, spokeswoman for the Defense Finance and Accounting Service, said the print statements have not been linked to any identify theft problems in the past, but officials worried troops could be vulnerable to the crime.

“Just the fact that you get that information through the mail means somebody could get your information,” she said.

A 2005 study by the Better Business Bureau reported that identity theft crimes are more frequently committed offline than online, with about 8 percent of all cases traced back to stolen mail and fraudulent address scams.

About 3.4 million of DFAS’s 5.9 million employee accounts are now managed through the online site. About 2 million of those accounts are servicemembers.

Among the services, the Air Force has the highest percentage of troops using the online system — more than 92 percent — while the Marines have the lowest percentage at just under 70 percent. The Navy and Army both have slightly less than 88 percent of their members online.

Bogard could not provide specifics on the cost cuts DFAS would see by dropping the paper documents, but said those savings are substantial.

The online presence not only reduces bulk mail and processing costs, she said, but it also directs more people to services on the Web site, which creates savings in other ways as well.

DFAS officials are planning an information campaign early next year to remind myPay users their tax documents are online and will not be delivered in print form.

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