- Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation
This week we celebrate the service of military veterans throughout the nation. While honoring Veterans Day, and throughout the month of November, many businesses and organizations offer service men and women discounts or special offers. Veterans are not the only ones taking advantage of these unique opportunities, scammers are impersonating businesses and faking military credentials to swindle vulnerable consumers.
According to the Federal Trade Commission, veterans, reservists, and active U.S. service members filed more than 121,000 reports in 2020, including about 65,000 cases of fraud and over 56,000 instances of identity theft. Majority of these scams try to gain access to personal and financial information. In many of these occurrences, fraudsters offer illegitimate benefits and charge bogus fees.
In support of our mission, and in honor of veterans across the Commonwealth, the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation compiled information on common scams targeting individuals that have served in the military.
- Phishing attempts impersonating government agencies: Scammers pose as representatives from state or federal entities contacting veterans via email or text. These communications look official but contain links that if clicked on steal sensitive information or install malware on your device. Double check the sender before opening any suspicious messages; do not provide any personal or financial details on unknown websites.
- Charging a fee to obtain military records: Veterans and their families can access basic personnel or medical records at no charge. If you are asked to remit payment for military service records, it is a scam. For more information about these documents, visit the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
- Offering investment deals related to military benefits: Con artists often target veterans’ pensions and benefits by claiming to offer larger payments in exchange for an immediate investment. Unfortunately, there is no investment opportunity, and any deposits or personal information are stolen.
- Funding exclusive loans: Fraudsters call veterans claiming exclusive loans or grants with the only eligibility criteria being prior military service. Confirm any funding with the financial institution or government entity using contact information from a verifiable website. Do not fill out any forms, provide personal information, or pay any application fees until you receive additional details proving the programs are real.
- Providing veteran only discounts: Posts or ads on social media platforms including discounted products or services for military personnel often increase this month. Verify any markdowns or rebates before following the advertisements call to action.
Always remember to take your time and evaluate the opportunity, advertisement, or message you are being presented. And avoid clicking on any suspicious links; check the URLs you’re visiting, “https” indicates a secure site.
If you are a veteran that has fallen victim to a scam, please report it to the Federal Trade Commission at www.ftc.gov or by calling 202-326-2222. Visit the Office of Consumer Affairs’ website for more information on avoiding scams and fraud.