BBB Alert: Beware of Memorial Day Scams Aimed at Military Personnel

May 24, 2013

Memorial Day has become a key opportunity for scam artists to target those who are serving or have served their nation, especially elderly veterans. As Memorial Day approaches, Better Business Bureau serving Eastern North Carolina urges consumers to be aware of scam artists that feed off these special citizens.

BBB warns consumers to beware of the following scams:

High-priced military loans. Advertisements for loans that promise a guarantee, instant approval or no credit check will often come with hidden fees and extremely high interest rates. Remember that legitimate lenders will never guarantee a loan before you apply and loans that require an upfront fee are likely a scam.

Veterans’ benefits 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. These buyout plans can be structured in several different ways, so research thoroughly before signing anything over.

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 via wire transfer for security payments or a key to the property, but in the end, they will receive nothing.

Phony jury duty summons. A caller claims to work for the local court system and states that the service member did not show up for jury duty and now has a warrant out for their arrest. When the victim says he or she never got a summons, the caller will ask for a credit card number or Social Security number to clear up the matter.

Misleading car sales. Web sites posting classified ads will offer false discounts for military personnel or claim to be from soldiers who need to sell their vehicle quickly since they have been deployed. Upfront fees will be required via wire transfer or the vehicle will have problems after purchase.

Expensive life insurance policies. Members of the military are often the targets of high pressured sales pitches that offer unnecessary, expensive life insurance policies. Solicitors may make false statements regarding the benefits that these policies offer.

BBB recommends the following advice to avoid scams:

Do your research. Get as much information as you can about a business before you pay. Check out a business’s BBB Business Review at

Do not wire transfer money to anyone you do not 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. Do not click on links within unsolicited e-mails. Do not enter personal information on unfamiliar Web sites. 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.