Scams that Target Military Personnel

Scam artists who prey on members of the military and their loved ones have no shame. But there are ways to avoid getting ripped off by these heartless crooks.

Never pay up-front to get a loan or a credit card

You may have seen advertisements promising easy access to loans, even if you have bad credit. These scammers try to get you to pay for their help getting a loan, but once you pay, the loan never materializes. To steer clear of advance fee loan scams, watch out for loan brokers who promise or suggest that they can get a loan for you if you pay a fee first. Under Mississippi law (Miss. Code 81-19-23), it’s illegal for a loan broker to charge an advance fee to obtain a loan or a credit card for a consumer. A legitimate loan officer should not require an up-front fee.

Don’t get taken for a ride

That vehicle looks great on the car dealer’s lot and you know you’d look great behind the wheel. But when you go car shopping, don’t be in a hurry. Pentagon officials have seen patterns of unfair business practices targeting military personnel buying cars. Make sure you’re getting a fair deal, especially if you’re buying a used vehicle. Research the car’s history and get a mechanic to look it over before you sign anything. And remember, a used car is usually sold “as is.” If it breaks down after you drive it off of the lot, the dealer may not be responsible for fixing it.

Watch out for people who try to exploit a military connection

Scammers are always looking for ways to get potential victims to lower their guard. Some will try to gain your trust by claiming a connection to the military. Just because a business puts a military reference or term in its name doesn’t mean it provides a legitimate service to military personnel. If someone seems to be using your shared military service to get you to purchase a product or make an investment, be wary. Don’t let anyone exploit your patriotism or cause you to set aside your healthy skepticism about spending or investing your money.

Avoid self-serving “Financial Planners”

Deployment pay “a reenlistment bonus” retirement pay. Any event that puts cash into the hands of a service man or woman represents an opportunity for an unscrupulous investment advisor. Despite recent crackdowns on companies that target members of the military for investments that carry high fees, military personnel remain at risk. Roth IRAs and the military’s Savings Deposit Program are among the safest ways to protect your hard-earned dollars.

Get insurance you need, not what someone wants to sell you

Some insurance agents try to use high-pressure tactics to maneuver military personnel into purchasing insurance they don’t need. Agents are now barred from trying to sell insurance at mandatory-attendance meetings on base, and they can’t use senior personnel to help them pitch their policies. But outside the gates, many insurance agents still try to convince service personnel to buy inappropriate insurance. Instead, max out your government-provided insurance. The Service Member’s Group Life Insurance (SGLI) provides outstanding insurance at a great price.

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