(KTVI) - Memorial Day is a time to honor veterans and active duty military for their service to our country. The Better Business Bureau (BBB) is alerting soldiers, veterans and their families to scams tied to or targeting the military.
“We can never give veterans and active soldiers enough thanks for their service,” said Michelle L. Corey, BBB president and CEO. “Unfortunately, scammers also take advantage of soldiers who are being deployed. Some scammers wrap their scams in patriotic themes designed to play on Americans’ debt of gratitude to veterans.”
Some common scams that target military personnel include:
- High-priced military loans - Purveyors of loans may make guarantees, promise instant approval or say their loans are available without credit checks. But the loans often include hidden fees or extremely high interest rates. Legitimate lenders will not guarantee a loan before you apply. Loans that require upfront fees are usually scams.
- Veterans’ benefits buyout plans – Cash payments may be offered in exchange for a disabled veteran’s future benefits or pension payments. However, the cash is just 30 to 40 percent of what the veteran is entitled to. Buyout plans can be structured in different ways, so research thoroughly before signing anything over.
- Fake rental properties - Stolen photos of legitimate rental properties may be used in ads that promise military discounts or other incentives. Service members must pay security payments or fees via wire transfer to obtain a key. In the end, they 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 are being deployed. Fees will be required via wire transfer. Then there’s either no car or the vehicle will have problems after purchase.
- Expensive life insurance policies – Members of the military often are targets of high-pressure sales pitches that offer unnecessary, expensive life insurance policies. Solicitors may make false statements regarding the benefits that these policies offer.
The BBB advises veterans, military or other consumers approached about these schemes to:
- Do your research. Get as much information as you can about a business or charity before you pay. Check out a business’ BBB Business Review or a charity’s Charity Review at www.bbb.org or by calling 314-645-3300.
- 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.
- Put an Active Duty alert on your credit reports when deployed. Doing so will minimize the risk of identity theft because creditors and businesses cannot issue or grant credit until verifying identity.