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A new study shows that veterans account for a significant amount of losses to fraud. Both U.S. active-duty military personnel and veterans have lost a total of $379.6 million to a variety of financial scams. 

From 2015 through June 30, 2020, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) reported that it received more than 680,000 reports about fraud, identity theft, or other consumer issues from military consumers. 

According to the report, the FTC groups military personnel into three different groups: 

  1. Military personnel, reservists and family members
  2. Active Duty personnel
  3. Veteran and military retiree reports

Veterans make up a majority of military losses, accounting for 57% of all losses at $217.2 million. Veterans and retirees account for 61% of complaints. 

The FTC doesn’t actually handle any of the claims, instead, it sends information to more than 2,500 law enforcers across the country.

How were veterans bamboozled out of millions of dollars?

Scams largely depend on the promise of money in exchange for some easy task. This can be as simple as filling out a form that reveals personal information or getting you to willingly hand over your wallet. 

Scams that veterans most often fell for include the following:

  1. Prizes/ Sweepstakes/ Lotteries: $51.9 million
  2. Government Imposter: $46.5 million
  3. Business Imposter: $36.6 million
  4. Romance Scams: $24.5 million
  5. Telemarketing Scams: $19.7 million
  6. Tech Support Scams: $16.6 million
  7. Online Shopping: $11.3 million
  8. Timeshare Sales: $10.2 million
  9. Real Estate (not timeshare): $4.5 million
  10. Inventions/ Ideas: $3.5 million
  11. Multi-Level Marketing/ Pyramid Schemes/ Chain Letters: $3.5
  12. Investments: Advice and Seminars: $2.3

Tips for avoiding scams for military personnel

Scammers are clever and can send convincing emails, build convincing websites, or make you believe they’re in love. They can also be very persuasive through common MLM techniques. It’s important that you stay one step ahead of fraudsters. 

Hang up the phone

Asking for money or personal information is an immediate red flag that a call is a scam. With caller ID spoofing, it’s easy to fake a number from legitimate businesses. If you receive a call from a reputable institution and you’re asked for information, hang up the phone and call the business back. It’s best to question anyone who calls you and asks you about your personal information. 

Avoid robocalls

Robocalls are illegal. If you answer a call from a number you don’t recognize, it’s best to let it go to voicemail. However, if you’re expecting a call and answer the phone, if you hear a recorded sales pitch, just hang up. 

Verify the call online

Corporations don’t typically cold call to tell you about a virus on your computer. You can verify the call by searching what the caller is telling you and including words like “scam” or “complaint.” Additionally, the IRS has a page dedicated to the types of tax scams that crop up throughout the year.

Tell a friend about your romance

Romance scams are the fourth most profitable tactics deployed on military personnel. If you are involved in an online relationship with a person that you have never met in person, then you should be wary of sending money or depositing checks. 

Do not deposit a check or wire money

The best way to ensure you won’t get your money back is to give away cash. In fake check scams, the fraudster will ask you to deposit a check and ask you to return the money for several thousand dollars—usually, more than you are owed. In addition, they will ask you to send the money to another person, usually a third party that you do not know. 

Beware of phishing scams

Phishing scams often pop up in your email disguised as an email from Google, Amazon, Netflix or another legitimate service you may use. These fake emails will tell you that your password has been compromised and ask you to input your credentials into a form that captures the information you put in. Once they’ve got your information, they will change your account password or use your login on other sites. Signs that give away a phishing scam include the following: 

  1. Email addresses that contain a strange combination of letters and numbers.
  2. An email address that may be similar to the URL domain, but slightly different in barely noticeable means.
  3. There are typos in the email. 

Never pay for a job

Transitioning out of the military can be difficult. And searching for a job can be daunting, especially in the current economic climate. Even on reputable job sites like Indeed, there are scammers who are interested in stealing your information. Be wary of recruiters who reach out to you. 

Understand your credit

Your credit is your financial future. Whenever you do anything online that could harm your bank account, it’s important to understand how these decisions can have lasting effects. If you’ve been scammed, a bankruptcy can help you hit the reset button on your credit. 

The Carlson Law Firm can help

Being scammed out of your hard-earned dollars is hard enough. It is particularly despicable that there are a group of scammers who specifically target active duty and veteran service members. The Carlson Law Firm has a qualified personal bankruptcy lawyer who handles cases from Fort Hood soldiers in the Killeen-area. 

If you are or were a member of the military who is living with significant debt after a scam, contact us today at 800-359-5690 to schedule your free no-obligation bankruptcy consultation.

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