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What to look for at this year’s Memorial Day sales

Watch out for Memorial Day schemes that target members of the military and their families and supporters

Memorial Day is a time to honor those who serve and remember those who have died in war. But, it’s also become a time for scammers to target those who are serving or have served their nation, especially elderly veterans.

Flag LisaThe Better Business Bureau is urging consumers and donors to be on the lookout for deals that seem too good to be true and for disreputable charities.

“Military personnel are targeted for a few reasons: they get a steady paycheck, they tend to be young, they move around a lot, if they’re deployed they may not be watching their finances/personal info closely, everything in the military revolves around their social security number, so it’s easy for them to have their identity stolen,” Coleen Smith, executive director of the BBB Education Foundation, said in a statement.

To avoid problems, visit www.give.org to verify a charity before donating and be on the lookout for these common scams:

Scams that target military personnel:

  • Fraudulent investors try to convince veterans to transfer their assets into an irrevocable trust.
  • Callers pose as the Veterans Administration and request military personnel to update credit card, bank, or other financial records with the VA.
  • Scammers pose as government contractors recruiting veterans and ask for a copy of the job applicants’ passport.
  • Companies specifically target military for services they could get for free or less expensively elsewhere.
  • Ads offer “instant approval” military loans – “no credit check,” “all ranks approved” – that can have high interest rates and hidden fees.
  • Ads offer military discounts and incentives online on housing and then cheat service personnel out of their security deposit.

Scams that target military supporters

  • Scammers try to sell services such as security systems to spouses of deployed military personnel by saying the service member ordered it to protect his or her family.
  • People sell stolen vehicles at a low price and claim to be soldiers who need to sell quickly because they’ve been deployed.
  • Individuals pose on online dating services as a lonely service member in a remote part of Iraq or Afghanistan, and ask for money to be wired to a third party for some emergency.

The BBB advises service members, veterans, and all consumers never to give personal identification information – Social Security, bank account, military identification, or credit card numbers – to anyone who contacts you by phone or e-mail, and to be wary of any solicitations that involve purchasing something or transferring money.

Consumers can check out businesses and charities at www.bbb.org.

For more information, visit www.bbb.org/us/military-line.

Copyright 2012, Rita R. Robison, Consumer Specialist

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