SALT LAKE CITY — Memorial Day was established as a day to to honor fallen soldiers from American wars, but con artists are now using this commemorative holiday to target the military.
Scammers use schemes that feature a patriotic or military approach to appeal to potential victims, as many legitimate businesses also offer holiday deals to service personnel.
According to the Better Business Bureau (BBB) common scams against the military include the following:
- High-priced military loans
- Veterans’ benefits buyout plans
- Fake rental properties
- Misleading car sales
- Expensive life insurance policies
In 2020, active-duty service members lost more than $190,000 to scammers across the United States, according to reports generated by BBB Scam Tracker. Veterans across the nation lost over $270,000 to fraudulent business practices.
While the vast majority of money was lost to online purchase scams, employment, COVID-19 and phishing scams were also prevalent. Almost half of scam victims were over the age of 55.
To avoid scams targeting military members and the general public this Memorial Day, BBB recommends consumers follow these guidelines:
- Do your research. Prevention is key. Spend the time to research a company before purchasing their services or goods.
- Avoid aggressive selling tactics. Businesses that pressure consumers to immediately contract their services without allowing time to obtain quotes or estimates from competitors should be handled cautiously.
- Beware of emotional appeals. Exercise care when engaging with businesses that use targeted emotional reactions to entice donations or contributions from consumers. Consumers can use BBB's Wise Giving Alliance to find a list of accredited charities.
- Never wire money to strangers. Money that is sent via wire transfer is extremely difficult to track and nearly impossible to be reimbursed. BBB recommends using a credit card for online purchases and donations whenever possible.
The FTC also provides resources focused on military consumer protection.
Military service members who have been victims of a scam are encouraged to report it to the BBB Scam Tracker.