UNDATED – As military service members and their families make enormous sacrifices daily for the good of their fellow citizens, they should also be sure to protect their own interests from would-be scammers and schemers, Attorney General Todd Rokita said today.
“By their very nature, the men and women serving in the U.S. armed forces tend to be selfless individuals,” Attorney General Rokita said. “They consistently prioritize the needs of their country ahead of their own comforts and safety. As part of our office’s mission to safeguard consumers, we want to make a special point to remind these heroes to stay vigilant against fraud, identity theft and other predatory practices.”
July is Military Consumer Month. The U.S. Department of Defense, the Federal Trade Commission, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and other agencies are also highlighting consumer threats to which service members and veterans could be vulnerable.
Recent scams for which veterans and military service members should be on the lookout include bogus military charities; calls, texts or emails attempting to impersonate the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA); copy-cat recruiting websites; and crowdfunding scams.
For the most part, Attorney General Rokita said, military families should follow the very same preventative steps as other consumers and take the same measures to rectify issues when they occur. They should pay particular attention, however, to the possibility that scammers may use misleading photos or language to falsely imply an association with a branch of the military or veterans group.
Veterans, active military service members and their families should be vigilant about protecting their personal and financial information through such steps as the following:
- Place an active duty alert on credit reports at no cost. An active duty alert requires businesses to take additional steps before granting credit in the name of active duty personnel serving overseas.
- Carefully inspect email addresses in all messages landing in your inbox.
- Avoid clicking on links in unsolicited emails, and be wary of email attachments.
- Purchase goods and services from trusted vendors. Use trusted, legitimate websites when doing business online.
- Don’t reveal personal or financial information via email or text message.
- Verify the authenticity of a charity before donating money. You may research charities at the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance website at give.org.
- Pay by credit card for all transactions. This enables you to file disputes with your credit card provider if you encounter fraudulent sellers. Do not wire money to purchase items. Never pay with gift cards.
- Do not follow payment instructions that take you outside of the payment services of legitimate websites with which you are familiar. This is generally a phishing attempt to steal credit card information.
- Take your time. Never feel pressured to act immediately to sign a contract or make a transaction.
If you believe you’ve encountered a scam, file a complaint with the Office of the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division at www.IndianaConsumer.com.