Veteran scams are types of fraud that target active-duty military, retired veterans, and their families. It’s common for scammers to seek out military members and pretend to be a charity, bank, or even a member of the Department of Veterans Affairs.
To help you and your loved ones avoid costly missteps, here are five of the most common scams targeting military members:
1. Imposter or romance
This is a common scam, regardless of industry, but is especially prevalent in the military. For this, the scammer pretends to be a friend, relative, or love interest in order to gain the victim’s trust and, eventually, access to their sensitive financial information.
This is a form of social engineering where scammers send emails to impersonate an official agency or company. They provide links that infect your device once clicked or ask you to submit financial or personal information. They often mark messages as “urgent” in an effort to frazzle or scare you.
3. Charging for free records
Military members have free access to basic medical and military personnel records. However, scammers can set up fake websites that appear legitimate on the surface but are designed to make the victim pay for these typically free records while simultaneously handing over credit or debit card information.
4. Professional or educational opportunities
This involves scammers posting employment or higher education opportunities and specifically calls out to veterans in the description. By nature, these scams can often be found on social media and professional sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Indeed. When you try to submit an application, the fraudster requests private information such as your social security number or banking information.
5. Veteran benefits
This is one of the more common scams that target veterans or service members specifically. This typically involves a scammer posing as “veterans services” or some other affiliation with the VA. They call or email and claim that as part of the process to get a loan or refinance your home, you must provide your sensitive personal and financial information.
The FCC reports that “military retirees and veterans who filed reports with the agency in 2020 lost $66 million and that the top fraud complaint was for imposter scams and the number one target of identity theft was government documents or benefits fraud.”
If you get a call like this, you should hang up immediately, write down the phone number that called, and report the scam to law enforcement.
Quick tips for scam prevention
- Never forget the golden rule of fraud prevention: If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.
- Unexpected calls or emails requesting personal or financial information should always raise a red flag. Fraudsters will also often rush you to take immediate action. If you are unsure, hang up and take a breath. You can even look up the phone number on the Internet to make sure it’s tied to an actual organization or business. Plus, a legitimate caller will not take issue with you hanging up and calling them back.
- If you’ve fallen victim to a scam or attempted scam, file a complaint with the FCC at consumercomplaints.fcc.gov.
Fraud is on the rise, but you can prevent it with vigilance and support. Let your bank know as soon as possible if you believe your bank account, debit card number, or other sensitive financial information has been compromised. We can help with next steps.
OMB and its affiliates do not provide legal, tax or accounting advice. You should consult your legal and/or tax advisors before making any financial decision.
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