Protecting Those Who Protect Us: Fighting Veteran-Related Scams

In anticipation of Veteran’s Day 2021 this Thursday, November 11, BBB® Serving Metropolitan New York is alerting consumers to keep an eye out for fraud targeting the military community.

“Because of their unique circumstances, veterans, active-duty military personnel, and their families are at particular risk for certain scams and predatory business practices,” says President & CEO Claire Rosenzweig.

According to the 2020 BBB Scam TrackerSM Risk Report, each of the above groups reported higher median dollar losses, as well as a higher likelihood of losing money in general, than non-military consumers. Active servicemembers were especially at risk, reporting a median loss ($269), more than double that of non-military consumers ($112). This same report noted that in general, the top 3 riskiest scams for military spouses involved employment offers, online purchase, and fake checks; for veterans, it was much the same except that home improvement scams instead of fake checks were in the top three most prevalent reported scams.

For military spouses—perhaps due to the nature of military life, which often involves frequent moves—employment scams posed the greatest risk of the approximately 30 fraud categories tracked. In its 2020 Employment Scams Report, the BBB Institute for Marketplace Trust noted that scammers often approach unwary consumers through job websites and social media, using tactics such as fake checks, requests for personal information that could be used for identity theft, and masquerading as a legitimate employer. Military-related spouses and veterans can protect themselves from such scams by researching all potential employers, avoiding no-interview job offers from strangers, and being suspicious of jobs in scam-ridden areas such as work from home positions, mystery shopping, and forwarding shipments.

Other types of fraud may target members of the military for their dependable pay and government benefits. In July, the Federal Trade Commission warned that for-profit educational institutions were deceptively marketing themselves to servicemembers and veterans through means such as false promises, aggressive sales, and phony government websites. Veterans who are seeking to attend college should shop carefully: check on an institution’s accreditation and graduation rate before enrolling. In many cases, an accredited community college or university may be less expensive and provide a better education for the investment. For more help, veterans can call the GI Bill Hotline at 1-888-GIBILL (1-888-442-4551) or visit the VA’s web page about education at va.gov/education.

So far this year in the Metro New York service area, self-reported veterans accounted for $23,600 in losses reported to BBB Scam Tracker, with about half of that amount lost to online purchases.

Servicemembers, veterans, and their families can visit the BBB Institute for Marketplace Trust’s Military & Veteran Consumer Information page to access resources on financial literacy, fraud, and purchasing decisions. Additional information is available online at militaryconsumer.gov.

Veterans and service members can also visit BBB.org as well as BBB.org/ScamTracker any time to check on a business, learn more about scams, and find consumer tips.

ABOUT BBB: For more than 100 years, the Better Business Bureau has been helping people find businesses and charities they can trust. In 2020, people turned to BBB more than 220 million times for BBB Business Profiles on nearly 6.2 million businesses and Charity Reports on about 11,000 charities, all available for free at bbb.org. There are local, independent BBBs across the United States, Canada and Mexico, including BBB Serving Metropolitan New York, which was founded in 1922 and serves New York City, Long Island, and the Mid-Hudson region. Visit bbb.org for more information.


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