Your Money Matters: Tips for avoiding scams that target veterans

Eugene Coyle

Amatulli & Associates

3701 Algonquin Road Suite 150
Rolling Meadows
(224) 735-2234
amatullifinancialservices.com/

Scams:

Phone Scams
Phone scams are one of the most common ways that identity theft occurs. Scam artists pose as a veteran administrative employee and call veterans to request they update credit card, bank or other financial records with the Veterans Administration (VA).

Phishing Emails
Phishing emails target veterans transitioning to civilian careers or otherwise looking for work. Some emails even appear to come from a reputable employer - and may even mention the Department of Veteran Affairs (vets.gov) or Veterans Employment Center in an attempt to look legit. The emails state that they have reviewed the veteran’s resume and want to set up a Google Hangout or Yahoo Chat to do an interview during which scammers try to glean Social Security numbers or bank account information.

Pension Plan Buyouts
The buyout plan is similar to a “payday” loan - essentially they are offers to get cash quickly in exchange for a disabled veteran’s future benefits or pension payments. The veteran would get a lump sum cash payment after he/she agrees to sign over all or some of his/her monthly pension checks for a period of time, typically 5 to 10 years. Here’s the problem. The loans carry extremely high interest rates. In fact, after fees, the interest rate one could pay on a pension advance could be over 100% in some cases. The company also often requires the veteran to buy a life insurance policy - with the pension advance company named as the beneficiary - to make sure that the payments continue.

False Rental Listings
This scam uses ads promising military discounts and stolen photos of legitimate rental properties to bait renters out of security deposits. Often, the veteran or military member has to pay via wire transfer in order to get the keys to a property. And in the end, they do not receive anything for their money.

Misleading Car Sales
Misleading car sales is another common scam. Low-priced vehicles posted on classified ad websites falsely advertise discounts for military personnel, or claim to be from soldiers who need to sell fast because they have been deployed. The BBB hears that these sales tactics are often misleading and troops who buy these cars are typically very unsatisfied with their purchase.

Tips:

Do your Research
Get as much information as you can about a business before you pay. There are a number of consumer groups where you can check out a company’s reputation or report fraud - like The Better Business Bureau and The National Consumers League.

Keep Your Guard Up
Keep your guard up, even if the person on the other end of the line sounds nice and isn’t too aggressive. Scammers know how to build friendships over the phone. And resist the pressure to make a decision on the spot.

Avoid Wire Transfer
Never wire transfer money to someone you don’t know. Money sent by wire transfer is practically impossible to track. Pay by credit card whenever possible, since you can dispute charges much easier.

Active Duty Alert
When deployed, put an “Active Duty Alert” on your credit reports by contacting any of the three credit reporting agencies. Doing so will help to minimize risk of identity theft because it requires lenders to verify your identity before approving new credit lines and removes your name from preapproved credit offers for two years.