There’s that saying that surfaces often
during patriotic holidays: Freedom Isn’t Free. I’ve been thinking about that adage
this 4th of July holiday season. With 244 years behind it, I’m
certain many others have thought about our freedom around Independence Day, too.
We all know, to a civilian’s degree at
least, that our active duty military and veterans have sacrificed much for our
freedom. Deployments, regular moves nationally and internationally, the
aftermath of those deployments, and on and on the sacrifices go. What many
people don’t realize is how often military members are targeted by con artists,
adding a terrible layer to the challenges they already face.
Because of frequent moves, entry into the
civilian job force after service, the
relative youth of active-duty military personnel, and other factors, Better Business Bureau research
shows that military members are more susceptible to nearly every major scam. In
2018, the BBB authored a study specifically about the riskiest scams impacting
Consumers who self-identify as
active-duty military, veterans or military spouses represent nearly 9% of those
who report to BBB’s Scam Tracker. Military personnel are more susceptible to
losing money when they are contacted by con artists; 17.5% report monetary
losses, compared to 15% of civilians who encounter a scammer. More striking is
the $280 median dollar loss for military members. That figure is nearly 30%
higher than non-military scam losses.
So, what tops the list as the riskiest
scam against military members?
Sadly, it’s employment scams. The median dollars reported lost in employment scams is $1,715. To ensure you or your loved ones don’t fall
for an employment scam, be cautious of “too good to be true” deals, work at
home positions and employers that overpay you. And as often as possible, try to
meet your prospective boss in person. Research the company you’re hoping to
work for – especially at bbb.org.
Military members often move
around quite a bit. It can be hard to know who to trust with home repairs. The
second most common scam affecting military consumers is the home improvement
scam. In this insidious con, 61% of military consumers who report a home
improvement scam lost money. To avoid this scam, always make sure you say no to cash-only deals, high-pressure
sales tactics, payments made upfront, handshake deals without a contract, and
The third major scam targeting
military members is online purchase scams. Nearly three out of every four
military consumers reporting an online purchase scam told us they lost money to
a fraudster. Between frequent moves and changing financial situations, families
are buying and selling more items online—and falling into common scammer traps. A way to combat that is to
use reputable online marketplace sites and apps that offer protection, so your
transaction is safer and more secure. Always pay with a credit card to ensure extra
protection on online purchases.
These scams can seem overwhelming and far reaching.
But BBB knows a little scam education can go a long way. Share this information
with the service member in your life. Make sure to let them know there are more
resources at bbb.org. Always know you can reach out to us at the BBB for help.
And always report scams at bbb.org/scamtracker. While freedom will never be
free, the help BBB offers veterans and servicemembers is.