Veterans take aim at veteransPublished 5:59pm Friday, November 11, 2011
Scammers often take advantage of veterans and active duty military personnel.
BBB wants to make sure those who serve do not become victims of fraud.
Veteran’s scams can take many forms. BBB provides the following information on offers and scams that can put veterans at jeopardy of becoming victims of fraud, paying more for items than they should or identity theft.
Types of scams
• Look out for firms that target veterans and charge for products and services they can receive free or at lower cost elsewhere, such as military records and forms.
• Be cautious of scammers who contact veterans saying they need to update their credit card information or other records with the Veterans Administration. The scammers then use the information to commit identity theft.
• Be wary of bogus charities with names that reference the Armed Forces and seek donations.
• Hang up on fraudsters calling themselves veterans advocates who try to convince veterans they can get more benefits by transferring their investments into an irrevocable trust, which often contains unsuitable investments.
• Military Loans: Flashy offers promising “up to 40 percent of your monthly take home pay,” “guaranteed loans,” “instant approval,” “no credit check,” “all ranks approved,” often come with sky-high interest rates and hidden fees designed to bilk borrowers out of cash and damage financial security.
• Housing: Ads promising military discounts and too-good-to-be-true incentives use stolen photos of legitimate rental properties to bait renters out of security deposits via money transfer schemes.
• Cars: Low-priced vehicles posted on classified ad websites tout discounts for military personnel, or claim to be from soldiers who need to sell fast because they’ve been deployed. Schemers convince buyers to wire money; however, vehicle data is stolen.
• Veterans for hire: This scam targets younger veterans. Scammers pose online as representatives of government contracting firms. When veterans contact them for a job, they ask for a copy of the veteran’s passport before they can officially offer them a job. Of course there is no job to offer, and the con artist now has personal information that can be used for identity theft.
What to do?
• Protect finances: Never wire transfer money to strangers.
• Check companies and charities: Research companies at www.bbb.org for free BBB Reliability Reports or Charity Review Reports.
• Defend computers: Avoid visiting unfamiliar sites or opening e-mails from unknown senders. Install a firewall and updated anti-virus software.
• Safeguard identities: Actively deployed military personnel can place an “active duty alert” on their credit reports to help minimize the risk of identity theft. With this alert, the Fair Credit Reporting Act requires creditors and businesses to verify identities before issuing or granting credit. The Federal Trade Commission offers advice to help military families deter, detect and defend from identity theft.
•Report Sscams: File complaints with BBB, www.bbb.org, the FTC, www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov, or the Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.ic3.gov.