November 9, 2011 – New York, NY – This Veteran’s Day, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) warns veterans and their families that they may be the target of scammers.
Veteran’s scams can take many forms. BBB provides the following information on different types of offers and scams that can put our Veterans at jeopardy of becoming victims of fraud, paying more for items than they should or identity theft.
“BBB honors veterans who have helped protect and serve our nation. It is our goal to help them protect themselves against consumer scams and identity theft,” said Claire Rosenzweig, president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau Serving Metropolitan New York.
Veterans scams can take many forms:
• Records and Forms Look out for firms that target veterans and charge them for products and services they can receive free or at lower cost elsewhere, such as military records and forms.
• Update your Information Be cautious of scammers who contact veterans saying that they need to update their credit card information or other records with the Veterans Administration. The scammers then use the information to commit identity theft.
• Charities Be wary of bogus charities with names that reference the Armed Forces and seek donations.
• Investments Hang up on fraudsters calling themselves veterans advocates who try to convince veterans that they can get more benefits by transferring their investments into an irrevocable trust, which often contains unsuitable investments.
• Military Loans Flashy offers promising "up to 40 percent of your monthly take home pay," "guaranteed loans," "instant approval," "no credit check," "all ranks approved," often come with sky-high interest rates and hidden fees designed to bilk borrowers out of cash and damage financial security.
• Housing Ads promising military discounts and too-good-to-be-true incentives use stolen photos of legitimate rental properties to bait renters out of security deposits via money transfer schemes.
• Cars Low-priced vehicles posted on classified ad websites tout discounts for military personnel, or claim to be from soldiers who need to sell fast because they've been deployed. Schemers convince buyers to wire money; however, vehicle data is stolen.
• Veterans For Hire This scam targets our younger veterans. Scammers pose online as representatives of government contracting firms. When veterans contact them for a job, they ask for a copy of the veteran’s passport before they can officially offer them a job. Of course there is no job to offer and the con artist now has personal information that can be used for identity theft.
What to do? BBB offers help:
• Protect Finances: Never wire transfer money to strangers.
• Check Companies and Charities: Research companies at www.bbb.org for free BBB Reliability Reports or Charity Review Reports.
• Defend Computers: Avoid visiting unfamiliar sites or opening e-mails from unknown senders. Install a firewall and updated anti-virus software.
• Safeguard Identities: Actively deployed military personnel can place an "active duty alert" on their credit reports to help minimize the risk of identity theft. With this alert, the Fair Credit Reporting Act requires creditors and businesses to verify identities before issuing or granting credit. The Federal Trade Commission offers advice to help military families deter, detect and defend from identity theft.
• Report Scams: File complaints with BBB, www.bbb.org, the FTC, www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov, or the Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.ic3.gov.
What We Can Do:
The BBB urges veterans to check out companies or charities at www.newyork.bbb.org or by calling 212-522-6200 before doing business. BBB Business Reviews contain information on the company’s complaint records, its owners and any government action taken against them.
Veterans may also contact the New York State Division of Veterans Affairs at http://veterans.ny.gov/, or the national agency at http://www.nasdva.net. The VA offers confidential help for Veterans and their families. If you or anyone you know is in crisis, call 1-800-273-8255, or use the 24/7 Veterans online chat
BBB Military Line:
BBB offers our military personnel information and help. Since 2004, BBB Military Line has provided free resources to our military communities in the areas of financial literacy and consumer protection through the efforts of 164 BBBs across the U.S. Military personnel may access information at http://www.bbb.org/us/Military/. For the latest military consumer alerts and information, follow us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/militaryline and on Twitter at www.twitter.com/Mil_Line.