MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) – The Better Business Bureau warns that while Memorial Day is a time to honor those who lost their lives for our country, scam artists also like to take advantage of this time of year.
Scammers use Memorial Day to take advantage of victims in a variety of schemes with a patriotic or military approach.
According to the BBB, in 2021, active duty military members reported losing significantly more money ($300) than military spouses ($170) or veterans ($220). While the percentages of military spouses (43%) and veterans (42.7%) who said they lost money when exposed to a scam were very similar to the percentage of the general population (42.8%) reporting monetary loss, the susceptibility of active duty military (60.7%) was about 42% higher than the susceptibility of the general population.
The BBB’s Military Line provides free resources and access to services for all branches of the US military.
The BBB indicates that the following scams are typically aimed at the military:
- High-priced military loans: Advertisements for a loan that promise a guarantee, instant approval, or no credit check often come with hidden fees and high interest rates. Legitimate lenders won’t guarantee a loan until you apply, and loans that require an upfront fee are likely a scam.
- Veteran’s Benefit 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% of what the veteran is entitled to.
- Fake rental properties: Stolen photos of legitimate rental properties are used in advertisements that promise military discounts and other incentives. Service members will have to pay a fee by bank transfer for security payments or a key to the property, and in the end they will receive nothing.
- Misleading car sales: Websites that post ads offer fake military discounts or claim to be from soldiers who need to sell their vehicle quickly since deployment. The initial fee will require a bank transfer, otherwise the vehicle will have issues after purchase.
- Expensive life insurance policies: Military members are often the target of high-pressure sales pitches that offer unnecessary and expensive life insurance policies.
The BBB also offers these tips to avoid scams:
- Do your research: Get as much information as you can about a business or charity before you pay or donate. Check out a company’s BBB business profile or see if the BBB has a charity report.
- Never transfer money to someone you don’t know: money sent by bank transfer is nearly impossible to track. Pay or donate by credit card when possible.
- Protect your computer: Do not click on links in unsolicited emails. Do not enter personal information on unknown websites. Keep your anti-virus software up to date and use a firewall at all times.
- Put an Active Duty alert on your credit reports upon deployment: this will minimize the risk of identity theft, as creditors and businesses cannot issue or extend credit until they verify identity .
Finally, follow these BBB tips before making a charitable donation:
- Get the exact name of the charity: There are over 28,000 veterans and military service organizations in the United States. Make sure the one you are asking for is the one you have in mind.
- Watch out for undue pressure to donate: Honest charities won’t pressure you into making a donation decision on the spot. Donors always have the choice to learn more about the charity so they can give with confidence.
- Check the website for the basics: Information about the charity’s mission, programs, and finances should be easily accessible.
- Find out if the charity meets BBB charitable standards: search for a report here.
For more information on military and veteran charities, click here.
Visit BBB Scam Tracker to track and report scams in your area.
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