BBB Tip: Protecting America’s Veterans from Fraud

Prior to President Eisenhower’s Veterans Day proclamation in 1954, November 11 was known as Armistice Day, a celebration recognizing the end of fighting during World War I at 11 a.m. on November 11, 1918 (the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11 month). In recognition of the sacrifices and honor bestowed upon military veterans, official ceremonies will be held on November 11 at 11 a.m. in the memorial amphitheater built around the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, with the laying of a Presidential wreath, often straight from the hands of the sitting US President.

Approximately seven percent of the adult population are U.S. military veterans ranging in age from 18 to over 100 and have served in various conflicts such as the Korean War, Vietnam War, the Global War on Terrorism, and World War II. Regardless of the years of service or the age of the veteran when they leave the military, many servicewomen and men face numerous personal and professional challenges as they return to civilian life. Unfortunately, veterans and military retirees are also disproportionately targeted by scammers and scammers, further complicating an already stressful time in their lives.

According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), veterans and retired military personnel have lost more than $482 million to fraud since 2018. Almost a quarter (23.2%) of all lost funds went to either corporate or government scammers, with a median loss of $950 and $1,500, respectively. Prize, sweepstakes and lottery scams continue to take a heavy toll on veterans, with the highest median loss of any scam being $2,200 per report.

A recent BBB report, which analyzed over 300,000 online purchase scam reports to BBB Scam Trackers since 2015, found that military consumers lose significantly more money from these scams than non-military consumers. So far in 2022, US veterans have reported more than $3 million in scams to BBB Scam Tracker, with nearly $400,000 lost to online purchase scams.

To protect veterans from becoming victims of fraud, BBB offers the following tips:

Please investigate. The first line of defense is often the strongest. Take the time to research a company before purchasing their services or goods. Check business profiles on BBB.org and check government websites to see if the service needs to be licensed, e.g. B. from interstate movers or companies that use pesticides. Get a full understanding of why a company needs access to your military records or government benefits on request, and what that information will be used for.

Avoid aggressive sales tactics. Companies and businesses that pressure consumers to order their services immediately without taking time to seek bids or estimates from competitors should be treated with caution. While it is good practice for businesses to engage with potential customers and clients, aggressive sales tactics can mean that the business is not investing in the best interest of the consumer. Be especially cautious if the contractor requires full payment for the project upfront, or claims to have worked on a nearby property and has spare material to use on your project at a discount.

Use protected payment methods. Money sent via bank transfer, gift cards, or peer-to-peer payment apps is extremely difficult to track and can be difficult to get a refund. BBB recommends using a credit card for online purchases whenever possible. Charges on credit cards can be more easily challenged and refunded if you deal with a business that doesn’t offer the services or goods you purchased.

Audit government, law enforcement, and corporate communications. Scammers often get in touch with their target by masquerading as either a government or business representative, or a local utility company. You can claim that the recipient has unpaid taxes, tickets, or bills that need to be paid in full immediately. Even Better Business Bureau is not immune to these scams. Often, communications from companies are designed to appear to come from a representative of the Fraud Prevention Department and claim that “suspicious activity has been detected on your account”. Conveniently, the recipient can check their account details via a provided link. Under no circumstances does BBB recommend following links provided in unsolicited emails, text messages or QR codes. Instead, contact the organization directly to resolve potential issues using the methods listed on their official website.

Visit BBB.org/Military for more tips and resources to protect serving and veteran military personnel from working with fraudulent companies.

The FTC provides resources focused on military consumer protection at MilitaryConsumer.gov.

Current and former military personnel who have encountered a scam are encouraged to report their experience to BBB Scam Tracker. The information provided may prevent another person from becoming a victim.

About Cindy Johnson

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