Memorial Day is a time for remembrance of those who have died serving our country, but it's also a time scammers try to prey on military members, veterans, and their families. Better Business Bureau's Veronica Craker shares some common scams to look out for.
- Phone call from someone posing as the Veterans Administration: They'll ask individuals to update their information with the VA, including financial information. This opens up victims to phishing.
- High priced military loans: Advertisements for loans that promise a guarantee, instant approval, or no credit check will often come with hidden fees and extremely high interest rates. Remember that legitimate lenders will never guarantee a loan before you apply and loans that require an upfront fee are likely a scam.
- Services that claim to benefit military families that come with a fee: Often times, the real services are actually free or low cost. Take your time to research before taking anyone up on an on-the-spot offer.
- Scammers pretending to be military members: Scammers pretend to be service members to pull people’s heartstrings and try to build trust. They then use this con to explain why they can’t meet up in person, or why they need to move quickly because they are leaving for deployment soon. Watch for these tactics in online sales or romance scams especially. Take the time to verify before sending any stranger money, and don’t let the emotion of the situation cloud your judgment.
Craker also recommends researching military causes before you donate near Memorial Day.
- Watch out for name confusion. Many veterans charities include virtually the same words in different order or slightly different form.
- Look out for charities that aren't clear about what they do. Look for a clear description of the organization’s programs in its appeals and on its website. If it says it is helping veterans, does it explain how (financial assistance, shelter, counseling) and where it is doing so?
- Beware of telemarketers: Telemarketing can be a costly method of fundraising unless carefully managed. If called, do not hesitate to ask for written information on the charity’s programs and finances.
You can always visit www.bbb.org for more information and resources.