Unfortunately, with Memorial Day fast approaching, scammers are out in full force to commit fraud surrounding veterans and military service.
The Better Business Bureau’s BBB Military Line offers a resource of known scams that specifically target active duty and veteran members of the military. Some of the scams that are currently topping their lists are included below, and these should serve as a warning to the public to be on the lookout for these and similar tactics.
1. VA data and credit card theft
Anyone who contacts you and claims to be with the Veterans Administration, seeking your personal identifiable information or access to your money, is not to be trusted. Remember the old rule: anyone who calls you should already have your information! You have zero obligation to provide personal details to anyone who calls you, even if they claim there’s a problem with your account or your case file.
The same is true of your money. No one who calls you claiming to be with the VA should ever get access to your bank account number, credit card or debit card number, or other means of payment. If in doubt, take the caller’s information and hang up, then contact your local branch office directly using a phone number you’ve verified yourself (not a phone number the caller provided as it could be a fake).
2. Scams that target military spouses
It’s hard enough being the spouse or family member of a deployed solider without having to deal with scammers, too. Unfortunately, thieves have discovered that the communication barriers that go along with a deployment can mean a loved one at home can’t verify the information easily. If a scammer calls offering you a security system, a car, a house or apartment, an investment opportunity, or even a life insurance policy, and then claims that the active duty soldier ordered it, either before or after deploying, don’t fall for it.
Any legitimate transaction won’t carry a time sensitive requirement. If you’re told the deal will expire within the next few hours, hang up and wait for the next golden opportunity to come along. Even if it was genuine—which chances are, it wasn’t—there will be another opportunity to make that purchase later on.
3. Requests for information
It doesn’t really matter what story the caller gives—a government contractor who’s hiring veterans, an official who needs to verify a soldier’s information, a military record database that needs to be updated—if you’re asked for your information as a military service member (or if you’re the family member of a soldier and asked for this information), hang up. That is not the method that legitimate agencies will use to update their records.
In order to protect yourself from these and many other attacks on your identity and your money, it’s important to stay informed. Most of all, be sure to spread the word to other military families in order to help them spot scams and fraud.
If you think you may be a victim of identity theft, contact the Identity Theft Resource Center for toll-free, no-cost assistance at (888) 400-5530. For on-the-go assistance, check out the free ID Theft Help App from ITRC.