Beware of scams aimed at military personnel |

Beware of scams aimed at military personnel

Shelley Polansky
Better Business Bureau

Memorial Day is a time to honor those who serve and to remember those who have died in war. But it’s also a key opportunity for scammers to target those who are serving or have served their nation, especially elderly veterans.

To avoid scams, the Better Business Bureau recommends checking out a company’s Business Review at, not sending money via wire service and making sure your computer has updated antivirus software and firewalls. Also, be sure to put an active-duty alert on your credit reports when deployed to minimize potential for ID theft.

The Better Business Bureau advises service members to be on the lookout for the following:

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 offers a cash payment in exchange for a disabled veteran’s future benefits or pension payments. The cash amount is only about 30 to 40 percent of what the veteran is entitled to. These buyout plans can be structured in several different 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 have to pay a fee via wire transfer for security payments or a key to the property; in the end, they will receive nothing.

Phony jury-duty summons: A caller claims to work for the local court system and states that the service member did not show up for jury duty and now has a warrant out for his or her arrest. When the victim says they never got a summons, the caller will ask for a credit-card number or Social Security number to clear up the matter.

Misleading car sales: Classified-ad websites sometimes include postings offering false discounts for military personnel or claiming to be from soldiers who need to sell their vehicles quickly because they’ve been deployed. Upfront fees will be required via wire transfer, or the vehicle will have problems after purchase.

Expensive life-insurance policies: Service members are often the targets of high-pressure sales pitches that offer unnecessary, expensive life-insurance policies. Solicitors might make false statements regarding the benefits that these policies offer.

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