Memorial Day is the time to honor American service men and women. However, along with the barbeques, parades and other celebrations; it has also become an opportunity for scammers to target those who continue to serve or have served their nation, especially elderly veterans, according to the Better Business Bureau (BBB).
Since today is Memorial Day, the BBB is urging consumers and donors to be aware of scammers that target service members.
These are the scams that the BBB says are being directed towards service members:
High Priced Military Loans – Watch out for advertisements for loans that promise a guarantee, instant approval or no credit check. These offers often come with hidden fees and extremely high interest rates. Remember that real lenders would never guarantee a loan before you apply. Also loans that require an upfront fee, are more than likely to be a scam.
Veterans’ Benefits Buyout Plans - This buyout plan offers a cash payment in exchange for a disabled veteran’s future benefits or pension payments. The cash amount is only about 30 to 40 percent of what the veteran is entitled to. These buyout plans can be structured in several different ways, so it is important to research thoroughly before signing anything over.
Fake Rental Properties – If you are looking to rent a home or an apartment, certain listings have stolen photos of real rental properties and use them advertise and promise military discounts or other incentives. The scammer usually requires the service member 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 could claim to work for the local court system and say that the service member did not show up for jury duty and now has a warrant out for his or her arrest. When the victim says they never got a summons, the caller will then ask for a credit card number or Social Security number to clear up the matter. It is important to note that local courts never ask for your financial information over the phone in any state, according to The Office of Jury Commissioner in Massachusetts.
Misleading Car Sales – Watch out for websites that post classified ads which offer false discounts for military personnel or claim to be from soldiers who need to sell their vehicles fast since they have been deployed. Scammers ask for the upfront fees to be sent 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 tactics that offer unnecessary, expensive life insurance policies. These scammers may make false statements regarding the benefits that these policies offer.
So in order to friend one of these scams to happen to you or a loved one, the BBB recommends the following advice to avoid scams:
- 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 at 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.
- 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.