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BBB warns of scams targeting veterans

Better Business Bureau
Memorial Day is a time to honor the men and women who currently serve our country, our veterans and those who have died in war. Unfortunately, Memorial Day is an opportunity for scammers to target military members and their families, especially older veterans. The BBB urges consumers and donors to be on the lookout for deals that seem too good to be true, and for unscrupulous groups posing as reputable charities to solicit donations.
“The unique lifestyle of our service members makes them prime targets for scammers,” notes Brenda Linnington, director of BBB Military Line. “It’s imperative that we educate our service members and ensure that the support we give to them equals the effort they make every day on behalf of us.” Linnington said scams can include those that target service personnel and their families directly, but also those that appear to be helping military members via charities.
During Memorial Day weekend, donors should be careful when giving to organizations that claim to support the military. Many organizations use names and logos that sound like and look like established, reputable charities to purposely confuse donors, when they actually provide little or no support to the cause. The BBB evaluates charities against its Standards for Charitable Accountability and donors can quickly check out a charity with the BBB online.
Common Memorial Day scam tactics include:
• Posing as the Veterans Administration (VA) to contact veterans about updating their credit card, bank or other financial records with the VA.
• Charging service members for services they could get for free, such as military records.
• Convincing veterans to transfer their assets into fraudulent investment schemes.
• Offering guaranteed military loans that can have high interest rates and hidden fees.
• Advertising housing online with military discounts and incentives, and then bilking service personnel out of security deposits.
• Trying to sell products security systems to spouses of deployed military personnel by saying the service member ordered it to protect his or her family;
• Selling stolen vehicles at low prices by claiming to be a soldier who needs to sell fast because he’s been deployed.
• Posing as government contractors recruiting veterans and then asking for a copy of the job applicant’s passport which can lead to identity theft.
• Posing on online dating services as a lonely service member in a remote part of Iraq or Afghanistan, and then asking for money to be wired to a third party for some emergency.
The BBB advises service members, veterans and consumers:
1. Do not give personal identification information to anyone who contacts you by phone or e-mail.
2. Be wary of any solicitations that involves sending money via wire transfer.
3. Research a charity before you make a donation at the BBB’s Wise Giving Alliance online: http://charlotte.bbb.org/Charity-Reviews/
You can check out businesses and charities for free at http://www.bbb.org/

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