Scams Targeting Service Members or Veterans
Thank you for your service. We hope you find these resources helpful in avoiding some frequent scams and taking steps if you have been the victim of a scam.
The Department of Justice, together with other federal agencies, is committed to enforcing the federal laws that protect the civil rights of service members. Please visit the website for the Service Members and Veterans Initiative for more information about what the Department of Justice is doing in this regard and resources that are available to you.
Many legitimate charities are soliciting donations to support the nation’s military veterans as well as the families of active-duty personnel. And despite tough economic times, people reportedly are responding generously to these requests. However, not all “charities” are legitimate. Some are sham operators whose only purpose is to make money for themselves. The Federal Trade Commission, the nation’s consumer protection agency, says there are several ways to make sure your donations go to a legitimate charity rather than a greedy scam artist trying to use the cachet of veterans and military families to cash in. For example, did you know that the words “veterans” and “military families” in an organization’s name does not necessarily mean that veterans or the families of active-duty personnel will benefit from the money. The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) does not endorse any charity, but recommends MilitaryOneSource, a DOD-funded program providing comprehensive information on every aspect of military life at no cost to active duty, Guard and reserve service members, and their families.
Having good credit is an important issue for all individuals and protecting that credit when your identity has been stolen is critical. Active service members who deploy can place what’s called an “active duty alert” on their credit reports to help minimize their risk of identity theft. The alert requires creditors to take steps to verify your identity before granting credit in your name. It lasts for 1 year but can be renewed.
Have you ever heard about payday loans or cash advances? If you answered yes, you may know that they usually come with steep interest rates. If you are in the military, the average percentage rate charged on these types of loans cannot be more than 36%. The lender must give you documents that explain the cost of your loan and your rights. However, before you consider a payday loan or a cash advance, you may wish to consider other choices such as getting financial help from military aid societies. For example, you may wish to contact the Army Emergency Relief (703-428-0000), Navy and Marine Corps Relief Society (703-696-4904), Air Force Aid Society (800-769-8951), or Coast Guard Mutual Assistance (800-881-2462).
Unfortunately, veterans and their families are targets for some dishonest advisers who claim to offer free help with paperwork for pensions. In short, the scheme can involve attorneys, financial planners, and insurance agents trying to persuade veterans over 65 to make decisions about their pensions without giving them the whole truth about the long-term consequences. The unscrupulous brokers claim to help veterans qualify for Aid and Attendance benefits, but in fact may cause them to lose eligibility for Medicaid services or cut off victims from their money for a long time.
There are different federal agencies and offices that work to protect you and help you if you've been victimized. For more information, please visit the following websites:
U.S. Department of Justice-Civil Division's Consumer Protection Branch
The Consumer Protection Branch enforces and defends the consumer protection programs of four client agencies: the Food and Drug Administration, the Federal Trade Commission, the Consumer Product Safety Commission, and the Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The Consumer Protection Branch is responsible for litigation under the principal Federal consumer protection laws these agencies enforce.
Federal Trade Commission
The FTC works for the consumer to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices in the marketplace, and to provide information to help consumers spot, stop, and avoid them.
- Consumer Information for Military Families
- Garnishing Federal Benefits
- Consumer Sentinal/Military
- Identity Theft: Military Personnel and Families
Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB)
The CFPB mission is to make markets for consumer financial products and services work for Americans. It has a dedicated Office of Servicemember Affairs to address consumer financial challenges affecting military members, veterans, and their families. The CFPB has several resources available on their website to include:
The USA.gov website offers advice and resources specific to members of the military and veterans.
HOPE NOW is an alliance between counselors, mortgage companies, investors, and other mortgage market participants. The Department of the Treasury and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development encouraged leaders in the lending industry, investors and non-profits to form this alliance.