Memorial Day is atime to honor those who serve and remember those who have died in war. Butsadly, it has also become a key opportunity for scammers to target those whoare serving or have served their nation, especially elderly veterans. BBB isurging consumers and donors to be on the lookout for deals that seem too goodto be true, and for disreputable charities.
“The uniquelifestyle of our service members makes them prime targets for scammers,” saidDavid Polino, Better Business Bureau President. “It’s imperative that weeducate our service members and ensure that the support we give to them equalsthe effort they make every day on behalf of us.” Polino said scams can include those thattarget service personnel and their families directly, butalso those that appear to be helping military members via charities.
“Donors need to watch out for questionable charities that raise funds onbehalf of military organizations,” adds Art Taylor, President and CEO of theBBB Wise Giving Alliance. “When you make a donation, always check BBB Wise Giving to see that thegroup meets BBB charity standards, especially around Memorial Day. Too manysolicitors that fail to meet BBB standards call and say they help veterans,service members or their families, and little of the money donated will servethat purpose.”
Scams to watch out for:
· Posingas the Veterans Administration and contacting veterans to say they need toupdate their credit card, bank or other financial records with the VA;
· Chargingservice members for services they could get for free or less expensivelyelsewhere, such as military records;
· Fraudulentinvestment schemes that convince veterans to transfer their assets into anirrevocable trust;
· Offering“instant approval” military loans (“no credit check,” “all ranks approved”)that can have high interest rates and hidden fees;
· Advertisinghousing online with military discounts and incentives, and then bilking servicepersonnel out of the security deposit;
· Tryingto sell things like security systems to spouses of deployed military personnelby saying the service member ordered it to protect his or her family;
· Sellingstolen vehicles at low prices by claiming to be soldiers who need to sell fastbecause they’ve been deployed;
· Posingas government contractors recruiting veterans and then asking for a copy of thejob applicants’ passport (which contains a lot of personal information);
· Posingon online dating services as a lonely service member in a remote part of Iraq or Afghanistan, and then asking formoney to be wired to a third party for some emergency.
BBB recommends the following tips to avoid these and other scams:
Do your research. Get asmuch information as you can about a business or charity before you pay. You canread BBB Business Reviews at bbb.org.
Don’t wire transfermoney to anyone you don’t know. Money sent via wire transferis practically impossible to track. Pay by credit card whenever possible, sinceyou can dispute charges easily.
Protect your computer. Don’tclick on links within unsolicited emails. Don’t enter personal information onunfamiliar websites. Make sure that you have updated anti-virus softwareinstalled and use a firewall at all times.
Find Free Resources. Military families who need assistancedon’t need to pay for help. In addition to BBBMilitary free resources, service men and women can turn to the FTC , NationalAssociation of Insurance Commissioners, and www.saveandinvest.org, a free service of the NASDInvestor Education Foundation.