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Wednesday, May. 22, 2024

BBB offers scam advice to veterans

Lane Montz/special to the VW independent

Memorial Day is the unofficial start of summer – but it’s really about honoring veterans who lost their lives for our country. Unfortunately, scammers use this time of year to take advantage of victims in various schemes with a patriotic or military approach.

In 2022, active-duty military reported losing significantly more money ($491) than military spouses ($249) or veterans ($200). While the percentages of military spouses (41.4 percent) and veterans (36.2 percent) who reported losing money when exposed to a scam were nearly identical to the percentage of the general population (40.9 percent) reporting a monetary loss, the susceptibility of the active-duty military (52.8 percent) was about 29.1 percent higher than the overall population’s susceptibility according to the Better Business Bureau’s 2022 Risk Report.

Lane Montz

BBB warns of the following scams that are typically directed at service members:

High-priced military loans – Advertisements for loans that promise a guarantee, instant approval, or no credit check 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 percent of what the veteran is entitled to. These buyout plans can be structured in several 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 – in the end, they will receive nothing.

Misleading car sales – Websites posting classified ads will offer false discounts for military personnel or claim to be from soldiers who must sell their vehicles fast since deployment. Upfront fees will be required via wire transfer, or the vehicle will have problems after purchase.

Expensive life insurance policies – Military members 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.

Tips to avoid scams:

Do your research – Get as much information as possible about a business or charity before paying or donating. A good start to your search would be to check out a business’ BBB Business Profile and/or see if the BBB has a report on the charity.

Never wire transfer money to anyone you don’t know – Money sent via wire transfer is practically impossible to track. Pay or donate by credit card whenever possible since you can dispute charges more easily. If it looks like you do know them, contact them directly to confirm it’s actually them asking for money. Don’t assume.

Protect your computer – Don’t click on the links within unsolicited emails. Don’t enter personal information on unfamiliar websites. 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.

Editor’s note: Lane Montz is President/CEO of the BBB of Northwest Ohio and Southeast Michigan.

POSTED: 05/25/23 at 9:50 pm. FILED UNDER: News