As Washingtonians take time to honor service men and women this Memorial Day, Better Business Bureau warns of scammers who have their sights set on ripping off military personnel and their families.
“It doesn’t get much lower than this,” says Tyler Andrew, CEO of BBB serving Alaska Oregon and Western Washington. “Too many times we hear stories of people coming back from deployment only to be sucked into elaborate and costly scams.”
BBB is alerting the military community and the public to malicious tactics that scammers use to steal money and identities.
Phone Scams: Impostors pose as Veterans Administration employees and call to “verify” personal information, sometimes using scare tactics like VA benefits cancellations to collecting birthdates, Social Security numbers and bank account information.
Rental Listings: Cyber thieves create bogus online rental listings and lure in potential victims by offering military discounts, requiring that deposits and rent be wired to landlords who are out of the country.
Military Loans: Sketchy lenders promise “instant approvals” and no credit checks, but loans often carry extremely high interest rates and hidden fees.
Insurance Policies: Solicitors make false statements or inflate claims regarding the benefits of policies they offer, using high-pressured sales pitches to sell expensive—and often unnecessary—life insurance policies.
BBB advises consumers to take the following precautions on Memorial Day:
- Do the recon. Learn about businesses and charities by visiting bbb.org before making payments or donations.
- Arm computers. Never click on unknown links in unsolicited emails, which may install malware and attempt to steal identities.
- Take watch. Deployed service members can issue “active duty” credit alerts to minimize the risk of identity theft. Creditors are then required to verify identification before making adjustments to accounts.
Through BBB Foundation, the BBB Military Line provides free resources to all branches of the U.S. military, including financial literacy information, scam alerts and access to BBB services like complaint handling and dispute resolution.