Some disheartening news for Veterans Day: Active service members, military spouses and veterans are more likely to lose money — and more of it — to scams, according to a recent report.
Last year, the Better Business Bureau saw “higher rates of military consumers losing money to fraudsters,” the report said.
Veterans and military spouses reported a median loss of about $133 to scams in 2020, according to a study published by the Better Business Bureau Institute for Marketplace Trust. Active duty service members were hit hardest, with a median loss of $269.
For consumers in general, the number was $115.
With shopping from home popular in the pandemic, online purchase scams were “the riskiest scam type for service members and veterans,” according to the study — in particular, schemes involving buying puppies and other animals and supplies.
“I wanted this pet because I’m a military veteran who is in need of this pet,” wrote an unidentified consumer in a report to the Better Business Bureau about losing $270 for a schnauzer puppy that never came.
Military spouses were most at risk for employment scams advertising flexible, work-at-home jobs, the study found.
Employment scams often involve online job offers from real-sounding companies that are actually an attempt to glean personal and financial information or get the applicant to pay for expensive training or supplies. Some scams involve a new employee being overpaid with a fake check and getting asked to wire back the difference.
Scammers have also been known to identify themselves as service members to gain the trust of would-be victims, reports from consumers to the Better Business Bureau’s Scam Tracker show.
“They will give you a story about how they are ... religious and military veterans,” reported another unidentified complainant.
One consumer looking to purchase a puppy online found an ad about a “military family” raising and selling poodles not for the money but “the love of the breed,” according to the report. The skeptical buyer found an alert on a pet scam site.
Some tips from experts:
- Be leery of anyone who wants you to act fast on a purchase.
- Research whether a business or website is legitimate. You can also do a Google search of the name or type of business and the word “scam.”
- If you suspect you’re not dealing with the well-known company listed in an ad, hang up, find the business’ legitimate number and call.
- If someone insists you pay with a gift card or money transfer, don’t.
- Never deposit a check and send money back to someone.
- If something seems off, stop and talk about it with someone you trust.