Memorial Day is a time to honor enlisted personnel and veterans and to remember those who have died in war and at home. It has also become a key opportunity for scammers to target veterans, especially seniors.
Brenda Linnington, director of BBB Military Line, said the “unique lifestyle” of military personnel and their families make them prime targets for scams that target them directly as well as scams that appear to help military members via charities.
And because of this, donors should check out a charity first at give.org to see that the group meets BBB charity standards. “Too many solicitors that fail to meet BBB standards call and say they help veterans, service members or their families, and little of the money donated will serve that purpose,” according to Art Taylor, president/CEO of the BBB Wise Giving Alliance.
Scams to watch out for:
• Scammers posing as representatives of the Veterans Administration contacting veterans to update credit card, bank or other financial records;
• Being charged for services they are free or less expensive elsewhere, such as military records;
• Fraudulent investment schemes that convince veterans to transfer their assets into an irrevocable trust;
• “Instant approval” military loans (“no credit check,” “all ranks approved”) that can have high interest rates and hidden fees;
• Housing ads placed online that entice renters with military discounts and incentives, and then bilking them out of the security deposit;
• Sales people pushing security systems onto spouses of deployed military personnel by saying the service member ordered it to protect his or her family;
• Vehicles sold online at low prices because the owner – a solider – has supposedly been deployed and the vehicle needs to be sold quickly;
• Scammers posing as government contractors recruiting veterans and then asking for a copy of the applicants’ passport;
• Impostors on online dating services pretending to be lonely service members in a remote part of Iraq or Afghanistan, and then asking for money to be wired to a third party for some emergency.
BBB advises military personnel, veterans and all consumers never to give personal identification information (Social Security, bank account, military identification or credit card numbers, etc.) to anyone who contacts you by phone or email, and to be wary of any solicitations that involve purchasing something or transferring money, especially by a non-bank funding source. Consumers can check out businesses and charities for free at wynco.bbb.org.
Start With Trust. For more information, visit bbb.org/us/military-line and visit us at wynco.bbb.org or call 970-484-1348 or 1-800-564-0371.