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7 Memorial Day Scams Targeting the Military

Hal M. Bundrick

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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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