With Memorial Day approaching, the thoughts of many Americans turn to our servicemen and women, as well as their families. Since members of the military protect us at home and abroad, BBB wants to protect them against con artists and scams.
“Too often, military service members and their families fall victim to scammers that target their unique lifestyle,” says Paula Fleming, BBB Spokesperson. “Since 2004, BBB Military Line has provided assistance to military communities with a variety of consumer related issues that are specially tailored to support their needs.”
BBB Military Line provides free resources, such as financial literacy information, access to BBB services and scam alerts for all branches of the military. BBB warns of the following scams that are directed at service members:
High priced military loans - Advertisements for loans that promise a guarantee, instant approval or no credit check will often come with hidden fees and extremely high interest rates. Remember that legitimate lenders will never guarantee a loan before you apply and any loan that requires an upfront fee is a scam!
Veteran’s benefits buyout plans - This buyout plan will offer a cash payment in exchange for a disabled veteran’s future benefits or pension payments. The cash amount is only about 30-40% of what the veteran is entitled to. These buyout plans can be structured in several different ways, so research thoroughly before signing anything over!
Fake rental properties - Stolen photos of legitimate rental properties are used in advertisements that promise military discounts and other incentives. Service members will have to pay a fee via wire transfer for security payments or a key to the property – in the end they will receive nothing.
Phony jury duty summons - A caller clams to work for the local court system and states that the service member did not show up for jury duty and now has a warrant out for their arrest. When the victim says they never got a summons, the caller will ask for a credit card number or Social Security number to clear up the matter.
Misleading car sales – Websites posting classified ads will offer false discounts for military personnel or claim to be from soldiers who need to sell their vehicle fast since they have been deployed. Upfront fees will be required via wire transfer, or the vehicle will have problems after purchase.
Expensive life insurance policies – Members of the military are often the targets of high pressured sales pitches that offer un-necessary, expensive life insurance policies. Solicitors will make false statements regarding the benefits that these policies offer.
Actively deployed troops can place an Active Duty Alert on their credit report. Doing so will minimize the risk of identity theft because creditors ad businesses cannot issue or grant credit until verifying identity. In addition, BBB recommends the following tips to avoid scams:
Do your research. Get as much information as you can about a business or charity before you pay. You can read BBB Business Reviews at boston.bbb.org.
Don’t wire transfer money to anyone you don’t know. Money sent via wire transfer is practically impossible to track. Pay by credit card whenever possible, since you can dispute charges easily.
Protect your computer. Don’t click on links within unsolicited emails. Don’t enter personal information on unfamiliar websites. Make sure that you have updated anti-virus software installed and use a firewall at all times.
Military families who want assistance in the marketplace can visit www.bbb.org/us/Military. For scam alerts, tips and other information you can trust, visit boston.bbb.org.