Your Better Business Bureau is celebrating National Consumer Protection Week by providing useful tips each day to avoid scams and be the smartest consumer on the block. Go to www.spokane.bbb.org, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter to check out our tips each day!
The size and scope of the United States Armed Forces, while being a power on the world stage, unfortunately makes them an all-too-common target of scammers. The Better Business Bureau founded BBB Military Line in 2004 in part to help educate servicemen and women on avoiding these malicious scams, but many still work their way into the pocketbooks of our veterans. The most common scams targeting military members include:
Military Website Scam: The most recently discovered of the bunch, this scam involved a phony insurance website touting recently-acquired benefits for Army members. The initial website, which has since been taken down, attempted to collect email accounts and passwords, as well as other vital information.
Online Dating Scams: Overseas scammers steal the identities of real soldiers on social networking websites and pose as those military members. The perpetrators build up a story describing their military travails, only to convince unsuspecting victims to send money or goods ranging into the thousands of dollars.
Craigslist Discount Scams: Both cars and housing have been the bait for various scams on Craigslist, offering discounted prices upon receipt of a wire-transferred “security deposit.”
Injury Scams: These scammers typically call the families of soldiers and “inform” them that their loved one has been injured in combat and needs money for medical bills. However, perpetrators in this category sometimes are simply anti-war activists using the calls as a form of protest as opposed to monetary gain.
Military Loan Scams: Military members who have less than perfect credit are becoming victims of flashy offers that typically promise great benefit at a low cost. In reality, however, these offers often contain sky-high interest rates that do more harm than good for military members and typically affect a soldier’s entire family, leaving in its wake years of damage to financial security.
Some good things to remember for avoiding military scams:
Official U.S. military websites end in “.mil” and nothing else.
Offers that seem too good to be true almost always are.
Never wire money for “down payments” on discounted offers.