Milwaukee, Wis. – The Better Business Bureau Serving Wisconsin recognizes the second annual Military Consumer Protection Day today and is reminding servicemembers, veterans and military families that they are potential targets for fraud and fraudsters and urges consumers and donors to be aware of scammers that feed off the military.
At other times, it’s not military personnel and their families that are the targets of scams, it’s people who support military and veteran causes as well. Some of these causes are actually fraudulent charities, such as Double Up Promotions, a purported charity serving veterans.
Double Up Promotions was the center of a BBB investigation and subsequent press release in 2012. The BBB referred the matter to the Wisconsin Attorney General’s office, and yesterday, the Attorney General announced it filed an action in Waukesha County against Double Up Promotions, Inc. and its officers.
Double Up Promotions sold coupon books that offered discounts to area businesses in Waukesha and Milwaukee counties, representing that the proceeds of the sale of the books would benefit Wisconsin disabled veterans and veterans charities. However, no money was ever donated to area veterans or veterans groups.
The state's complaint alleges multiple statutes were violated including those governing charity solicitation, fraudulent representation and deceptive trade practices. The complaint seeks restitution for consumers who purchased coupon books, as well as forfeitures for multiple violations of consumer laws.
“Who doesn’t want to help veterans and veterans’ causes?,” said Ran Hoth, CEO and President of the Better Business Bureau Serving Wisconsin. “There are a lot of legitimate organizations out there that truly help vets, and we urge consumers and businesses to do their homework first, before donating. Check before you give.”
BBB recommends the following tips to avoid scams:
Before donating to a veterans charity, check it out. Don't make on-the-spot decisions. Before you write out that check, make sure you verified the charity is real, and know how much of your donation is going for direct help to veterans and how much is going to for-profit fundraisers.
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.
Military Consumer Protection Day is a year-round campaign hosted by the FTC, the Department of Defense, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and other consumer advocacy and military support organizations to empower and engage servicemembers, veterans and their families with information related to issues that affect them.
BBB Military Line, the military arm of the Better Business Bureau, provides free resources, such as financial literacy information, access to BBB services and scam alerts, and complaint and dispute resolution for all branches of the U.S. military.
For more information or further inquiries, contact the Wisconsin BBB at www.bbb.org/wisconsin or 414-847-6000 (metro Milwaukee), 920-734-4352 (Appleton), 608-268-2221 (Madison) or 1-800-273-1002 (elsewhere in Wisconsin). Consumers also can find more information about how to protect themselves from scams by following the Wisconsin BBB on Twitter, Facebook and You Tube.
For more than 100 years, Better Business Bureau has been helping consumers find businesses, brands and charities they can trust. In 2012, consumers turned to BBB 124 million times for Business Reviews on more than 4.5 million companies and Charity Reports on 11,000 charities, all available for free at bbb.org. The Council of Better Business Bureaus is the umbrella organization for 112 local, independent BBBs across the United States and Canada, as well as home to its national programs on dispute resolution and industry self-regulation.