SALT LAKE CITY (KUTV) — Memorial Day weekend is here, where most of us will be honoring those that serve in the military. But, for scammers, it’s a time for them to target veterans and active-duty military personnel.
Officials with the Better Business Bureau said the scammers appeal to their sense of patriotism or their military status to trick them into giving money.
There are a few different kinds of scams. The Better Business Bureau said some are fake charities, others lock vets into high interest military loans or life insurance policies. They also said active military members are prone to lose more money in these scams than the general population.
Last year, active-duty personnel lost an average of $491 dollars in scams, which is more than double what the general population lost in a similar type of fraud, according to the Better Business Bureau. Cory Pearson with the Utah Department of Veterans and Military Affairs said fraudsters love targeting the military this time of year.
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“We do have scammers that really want to focus on Memorial Day, 9/11, Veterans Day and really start to push out information , or even at times make calls to folks asking people to give money to certain charities,” Pearson said.
If a vet feels they have been tricked, there are resources to help them recover. For instance, the BBB has a military line that gives scam alerts, financial literacy resources and dispute resolution for all branches of the military.
“If veterans feel like they’re being scammed or something has happened to them in a negative light, the first thing I would say is to definitely get a hold of the state Division of Consumer Protection. They’re a division that works within the state and they can look into these types of issues," Pearson said.
Vets are also facing another kind of attack malware. Utah Disable American Veterans Chapter 8 Commander Adam Richardson said scammers send out patriotic articles or military links filled with viruses that can take personal data and banking information.
“That automatically opens up," he said. "It’s going to infest whatever it wants to as far as [it can]. It’s pretty vicious stuff.”
Why are active-duty military personnel more susceptible to these scams? Richardson believes people who serve in the military are just more likely to help out when it appears someone is in need, thus making them more vulnerable to fraudsters.
“We’re not going to leave anybody behind. You’re not forgotten. All of those things are terms that we use every day about our fellow military personnel,” according to Richardson.
The Better Business Bureau said people should get all the information they can about a charity before giving any money to it, and servicemen and women should put an Active Duty Alert on their credit report when they’re deployed.