Service members and their families make many sacrifices for their country. Unfortunately, aspects of a service member’s job often make them more vulnerable to scams. Perhaps most importantly, they have a guaranteed and steady income that scammers would love to have access to. In the Northwest and Pacific region, service members, veterans and spouses have reported more than 500 scams with an estimated $94,000 lost in the past year, according to BBB Scam Tracker. Among those, tax collection scams were the number one scam reported for military consumers in Idaho, followed by phishing scams. Other common scams that target the military and their family include:
Imposter scams: These scams include the romance scam and grandparent scam. In the romance scam, scammers pose as real military members on social media and pull on your heartstrings to gain your trust and your hard-earned cash. In the grandparent scam, imposters call the families of service members claiming the grandparent needs to wire money to cover their grandchild’s injury overseas.
Charity scams: Many scam artists use similar names of well-known veterans’ charities and can easily create websites and accounts similar to credible charities.
“Too good to be true” deals: Watch out for too good to be true loans offered to members of the military or veterans such as “no credit checks” or “all ranks approved.” These can have high-interest rates and hidden fees. Remember, legitimate lenders will never guarantee a loan before you apply and loans that require an upfront fee are likely a scam. Similarly, scammers will advertise housing with military discounts and incentives. Service members will pay a fee via wire transfer for a security deposit or a key to the property — in the end; they will receive nothing.
Another “too good to be true” deal involving soldiers includes cars sold at low prices. Scammers claiming to be in the military will claim they need to sell their car fast because they are being deployed, but the low-priced cars are actually stolen. To avoid these scams, remember to always do your research. Get as much information as you can about a business or charity before you pay.
A good start to your search would be to check out a business’ BBB Business Review. Also, never wire transfer money to someone you don’t know. Wiring money is near to impossible to get back once it is sent. It’s wise to instead pay with a credit card in case you need to dispute the transaction.
For more resources for military consumers, visit the BBB Military Line at bbb.org/military. This outreach program focuses on educating service members about financial literacy and consumer protection tips for military communities.
Jeremy Johnson is the eastern Idaho marketplace manager for Better Business Bureau, serving the Northwest and Pacific. Contact her by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jeremy Johnson is the eastern Idaho marketplace manager for Better Business Bureau, serving the Northwest and Pacific. Contact her at by emailing email@example.com.
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