Protect yourself against military scams this Memorial Day

Image courtesy of PinkBlue at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of PinkBlue at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Cook-outs, barbecue, swimming in the lake and spending time with family and friends are just a few of the activities that come to mind when we think about Memorial Day. Although it’s nice to have the day off, we must not forget Memorial Day is a holiday to honor Americans who died while serving in the military.

Unfortunately, Memorial Day can be an opportunity for scams artists to take advantage of unsuspecting Service Members. Here at Better Business Bureau, we make special efforts to ensure military servicemen and women have the resources available to steer clear of this behavior.

BBB wants to alert you to several common scams directed at Service Members, including:

  • High-priced Military Loans: Flashy offers promising “up to 40 percent off your monthly take home pay,” “guaranteed loans,” “instant approval,” “no credit check,” “all ranks approved,” often come with extremely high interest rates and hidden fees.
  • False Real Estate Advertisements: Ads promising military discounts and too-good-to-be-true incentives typically use stolen photos of legitimate rental properties to bait renters out of security deposits. Often the victim has to pay via wire transfer in order to get the keys to a property sent to them, and in the end, they do not receive anything for their money.
  • Misleading Car Sales: Low-priced vehicles posted on classified ad websites often falsely advertise discounts for military personnel, or claim to be from soldiers who need to sell fast because they’ve been deployed. BBB hears that these sales tactics are often misleading and troops who buy these cars are typically very unsatisfied with their purchase.
  • Veterans’ 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 percent of what the veteran is entitled to. These buyout plans can be structured several different ways, so research thoroughly before signing anything over.

BBB recommends the following to avoid scams:

  • Never wire transfer money to strangers. Paying with a credit card is much safer. Avoid using a debit card that is linked directly to your checking account to pay for an online transaction, especially if it’s not a secure website.

  • Research companies before you pay them. BBB resources are available for free online at org. Check BBB Business Reviews to view complaint history, customer reviews and advertising-related concerns.
  • Defend your computer. Avoid visiting unfamiliar sites or opening emails from unknown senders. Make sure you install a firewall and have updated anti-virus software.
  • Place an active duty alert on your credit report. 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, creditors and businesses have to verify your identity before issuing or granting credit.

BBB Military Line – a program that brings BBB services to military members and their families – has provided free resources and support to our military communities in the areas of financial literacy and consumer protection since 2004. For more information about BBB Military Line, visit bbb.org/central-texas.

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