By Guest Contributor

AARP released a survey a year ago, that reveals that service members, active and retired, were ~40% more likely to be scammed than civilians.  In 2021, military families were defrauded out of $267 million, more than double in 2020.

Con artists use specific military vocabulary and government guidelines to scam unsuspecting victims to create a false sense of familiarity. In fact, AARP reports, that one in three reported losing money on three service-related hoaxes.
 

  • Benefit Buyouts: Turning over U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) pension and/or disability benefits for a supposed lump-sum payment that never materializes
  • Fraudulent Records Scam: Paying for updated personal military records
  • Fake Charitable Request: Donating to fake veteran charities

Knowing how scammers target people and how they operate, is important in protecting your money and identity. 

Some simple steps can help to safeguard you against con artists:

  • Never pay for your military records. They are always free through your local VA.
  • Don’t pursue jobs if you have to pay a fee or supply banking information in order to be hired.
  • Don’t allow someone to access your private information from the VA without power of attorney.
  • Register all phone numbers with the National Do Not Call Registry.
  • Install robocall-blocking programs.
  • Keep antivirus software current.
  • Secure private information with different logins and passwords for each account.
  • Confirm the legitimacy of veterans’ charities before donating with independent websites like Charity Navigator.
  • Never reveal private and sensitive information like banking details and social security number unless you can confirm who you are dealing with.
  • Do not wire money or use gift cards as payment. These methods make tracking the transactions nearly impossible. 
  • If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

The more you know, the more you can protect yourself and your family. Stay updated with the FTC’s Military Consumer Protection website.

Sources: aarporg, militarytimes.com, militaryconsumer.gov, and press.aarp.org

Provided by AgeWell Middle Tennessee