SAN ANTONIO, Texas — Many of our veterans who fought so hard for our freedoms, still have a target on them when they leave the military, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) says.
That is because schemers are taking at aim at them.
The BBB reports Texas veterans lost $407,000 since the beginning of this year. The average vet loses $700 according to the Federal Trade Commission.
The most common schemes targeting veterans include:
- Online purchase schemes: 29% of reports totaling almost $40,000 in losses
- Phishing schemes: 16% of reports totaling more than $26,000 in losses
- Employment schemes: 8% of reports totaling more than $37,000 in losses
- Utility schemes involving solar energy companies: 1.7% of reports totaling $48,000 in losses.
“We feel con artists use the backdrop of their honored military service as an immediate way to get buy in with vets,” said Jason Meza, regional director for the BBB. “They over promise a service or a product aimed directly at them, maybe a benefit like a freebie or a complimentary product, even a discount in exchange for money or their personal data.”
Veterans and all of us can protect ourselves with these steps:
- Do research. Look up the company on the BBB website and read reviews before you buy.
- Avoid aggressive sales tactics. If you are pressured to make an immediate decision, then say no.
- Beware of emotional appeals for money. Make sure you focus on what the business does and not just how it asks for money. For example, appeals for donations to help homeless veterans are popular surrounding Veterans Day. Yet, understand what exactly the organization is doing to help veterans and how the money is used.
- Pay with a credit card. It offers the most fraud protection. You lose your money if you pay with wire transfers, gift cards, cryptocurrency, money orders and peer-to-peer mobile payments like Venmo, Cash App and Zelle. Charges on credit cards are easier to dispute and easier to refund when a business does not provide a purchased good or service.
Report it if you are a victim of fraud at BBB Scam Tracker. It can help stop the scheme and stop others from falling victim.