Soldiers, sailors and airmen are an appealing target for scammers for several reasons. Many servicemembers are young and making major financial decisions for the first time. They receive a steady paycheck, plus reenlistment bonuses and deployment pay.
In addition, military families move frequently and do not know which sellers to avoid. Scam artists know that military personnel are required to keep their finances in good shape and may be more likely to pay a fake debt to keep their finances in good standing.
You can take steps to protect yourself and your finances:
Be wary of sellers or “investment professionals” that use their connection to the military to make a sale. This could be a fraud in disguise.
Protect yourself from identity theft by changing your mailing address when you are restationed.
Contact the credit reporting agencies to place an active duty alert on your accounts. This limits the ability of ID thieves to apply for credit while a servicemember is deployed.
Know your rights. The Servicemember Civil Relief Act extends consumer rights to service personnel; there is added protection from default judgments as well as the ability to cancel contracts and leases.
Learn more about all different kinds of scams and frauds so you can protect yourself.
Spam text messages can be annoying, but did you know they are illegal? Some common scams use text message spam to lure you into revealing personal information in exchange for a “free gift” like a gift card or vacation package.
How it works: In order to collect your gift, the message will instruct you to reply to the text with your personal information such as a bank account or your social security number. The spammer may charge your bank account so you can claim your “free gift” that you will probably never receive.
In certain situations, spammers then sell your personal information to outside parties, leaving you vulnerable to identity theft.
Take these steps to limit your chances of getting scammed:
Register your number on the Do Not Call List.
Delete spam messages.
Never click on links provided in spam messages. Links often carry malware or send you to fake websites.
Never reply to these text messages or give out your personal information.
Report the text spam to your cell phone carrier by forwarding the message to 7726 (SPAM).
Report any unwanted commercial text messages to the FTC.
Learn more about protecting yourself from text message spam.
Do you have a consumer question? Ask Marietta, the editor of the Consumer Action Handbook, and she could answer it live next Tuesday during a Google Hangout.
You can email questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet them using the hashtag #AskMarietta.
And make sure to sign up to watch the event live on Tuesday, June 24 at 3 p.m. ET.
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