NEW YORK (MainStreet)—Memorial Day is the unofficial, but traditional, start to summer but more importantly it is a day we set aside to honor the military men and women who have died in service to their country. It is also a time when scams targeting the military heat up.
The BBB Military Line, a service of the Better Business Bureau, provides free resources as well as complaint and dispute resolution for all branches of the U.S. military and has compiled these most-frequent scams targeting service members:
High priced loans – Beware of come-ons that guarantee instant approval or no credit checks for service members. Legitimate lenders never guarantee a loan before you apply. These military-targeted loans often have hidden fees and high interest rates, too. And loans that require an upfront "application" fee are usually a scam.
Benefits buyout plans – This scam will offer an upfront cash payment in exchange for a disabled veteran's future benefits or pension payments, usually only about 30 to 40% of what the veteran is entitled to. Read the fine print to know exactly what you are giving up.
Fake rental properties – Scammers advertise rental properties with "military discounts" and other incentives, then ask for a wire transfer for a security deposit or other upfront fee. The only problem is, they don't own the property. Wire transfers should always throw up a red flag in any transaction, because they are nearly impossible to track.
Phony jury duty summons - A caller claims to work for the local court system and states that the service member did not show up for jury duty, and there is now a warrant out for their arrest. When the victim says they never got a summons, the caller will ask for a credit card number or Social Security number to clear up the matter.
Misleading car sales – Another version of the "military discount" scam. Classified ads will offer discounts for military personnel or claim to be rush-selling vehicles for soldiers that have been deployed. Once again, upfront fees and deposits buy nothing.
Expensive life insurance policies – Members of the military are often the targets of high-pressure sales tactics for expensive life insurance policies. Read the fine print to know the benefits you are buying.
Bogus charities can play to the emotions of the moment– Before donating to a "Memorial Day" charity, the BBB recommends you check them out with a charity report from give.org.
--Written by Hal M. Bundrick for MainStreet