Scams targeting military personnel
Approximately 1.3 million Americans are active duty service members, another 800,000 are in the reserves, and nearly 20 million are military veterans. While these individuals have one obvious thing in common, there is one other prevalent similarity between them, these folks and their loved ones are at a higher risk of being the targets of a scam.
How the scam works
Certain aspects of a service member’s job may make them more vulnerable to scams. They have a guaranteed and steady income that is attractive to scammers. They are frequently deployed and move around often, which makes staying on top of red flags in bills and credit reports more difficult. Service members are often young and may be financially inexperienced. These are all things scammers prey upon.
Common military-related scams
• Military Loans. Too good to be true loans offered to members of the military or veterans such as “no credit checks” or “all ranks approved” with an upfront fee.
• Charity Scams. There are fake charities that use similar names of well-known veterans’ charities to try and fool donors. Remember, scammers can easily create websites and accounts similar to credible charities.
• Identity Theft. Someone posing as the Veterans Administration (VA) under the guise of asking veterans to update credit card, bank or other financial records with the VA to steal your personal information. Someone posing as government contractors recruiting veterans and then asking for a copy of the job applicant’s passport, which can lead to identity theft.
• Wiring Money. Using social networks or dating services to get victims to wire money to help what they are led to believe is a deployed service member.
• Phishing Emails. Targeting military spouses with phishing emails.
Tips to avoid these scams
BBB recommends the following tips for military, their families and veterans.
• Be leery of too-good-to-be-true offers. Whether it is for a vehicle, a loan or housing, do not give out your personal or financial information over the phone or by email with anyone you do not know, especially when you did not initiate the contact.
• Do your homework. When considering giving to a charity solicitation, always make sure to do your homework first. Research the organization at give.org where there are more than 11,000 charity reports from the U.S. and Canada.
• Be careful with your credit. If you are on active duty, BBB recommends putting an “Active Duty alert” on your credit report to limit the risk of identity theft.
For more about scams, go to BBB Scam Tips (BBB.org/ScamTips). To report a scam, go to BBB Scam Tracker (BBB.org/ScamTracker).