Memorial Day scams target military families, supporters
By Lt. Col. Jereme Barrett, 96th Security Forces Squadron commander
/ Published May 22, 2012
EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. --
Memorial Day is a time to honor those who serve and remember those who gave the ultimate sacrifice. It has also become a key opportunity for scammers to target those who are serving or have served their nation, especially elderly veterans. The Better Business Bureau urges consumers and donors to be on the lookout for deals that seem too good to be true, and for disreputable charities.
Among the scams to watch out for:
- - People posing as Veterans Administration representatives who contact veterans to say they need to update their credit card, bank or other financial records with the Veterans Administration;
- - Businesses that charge service members for services they could get for free or less expensive elsewhere, such as access to military records;
- - Fraudulent investment schemes that convince veterans to transfer their assets into an irrevocable trust;
- - Businesses that offer "instant approval" military loans, with language like "no credit check" and "all ranks approved," that can have high interest rates and hidden fees;
- - Businesses that advertise housing online with military discounts and incentives, and then bilk service personnel out of the security deposit;
- - Businesses that try to sell things like security systems to spouses of deployed military personnel by saying the service member ordered it to protect his or her family;
- - People who sell stolen vehicles at low prices by claiming to be soldiers who need to sell fast because they've been deployed;
- - People who pose as government contractors recruiting veterans and ask for a copy of the job applicants passport (which contains a lot of personal information);
- - People on online dating services who portray themselves as lonely service members in a remote part of Iraq or Afghanistan, and then ask for money to be wired to a third party for some emergency.
The BBB advises service members, 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 e-mail, and to be wary of any solicitations that involve purchasing something or transferring money. Consumers can check out businesses and charities for free at www.bbb.org.