Military Consumer Protection Month, recognized every July since 2013, is an opportunity for consumer awareness, enforcement and advocacy groups, such as Better Business Bureau and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), to focus on the impact of fraudulent or malicious business practices on the military community. Despite the sacrifices members of the U.S. armed forces and their families make each day, the military community is a constant target for scammers and businesses employing unethical practices.
According to the FTC, the military community (active-duty service members, veterans, their families and reservists) have lost more than $566 million to fraud from 2017-present, with the majority, $60.8 million, to government impostor scams. The FTC remains dedicated to protecting America’s service members through continuous enforcement of reported fraudulent activity and an ongoing educational campaign tailored for the military community. More information about the FTC’s military consumer protection program can be found at MilitaryConsumer.gov.
A few common scams that target military members include:
- High-priced military loans
- Veterans’ benefits buyout plans
- Fake rental properties
- Misleading car sales
- Expensive life insurance policies
- Romance scams
Since January 2021, veterans, active-duty service members and their families residing in Texas have reported more than $80,000 of losses to various scams across the state, according to BBB Scam Tracker. To combat against scams targeting the military community, BBB’s Military Line provides resources for active-duty service members, veterans and their families to assist the military community navigate an ever-changing and often complex marketplace.
“As a liaison between businesses and consumers, BBB is uniquely positioned to provide information, guidance and consumer resources to the military community,” said Heather Massey, vice president of communications for Better Business Bureau serving the Heart of Texas. “BBB regional directors work with military bases around Texas to conduct training workshops specifically tailored for military consumer protection. These workshops focus on scams that target the military community, tips for transitioning service members and information about divisions of BBB National Programs, such as BBB Auto Line, that the military community can use when changing duty stations.”
BBB San Antonio Regional Director Jason Meza is conducting training seminars for new recruits at JBSA Ft. Sam Houston during July and September, focused on home and car buying tips for those beginning their military career.
“For most military recruits, this is their first opportunity to invest in expensive purchases such as a house or car,” said Meza. “Unfortunately, unethical businesses know this as well and often target active-duty service members with extraordinarily high interest rates or homes that will require substantial investment to fix, such as foundation, plumbing or air-conditioning issues. Better Business Bureau works with base commanders to provide training to prevent recruits from being taken advantage of by these types of scams once they report to their first duty station.”
BBB San Antonio also serves on the Armed Forces Disciplinary Control Board which monitors local establishments demonstrating predatory tactics towards enlisted members or veterans. The board investigates and recommends off-limits establishments for base personnel.
For more information about BBB’s Military Line and to access BBB’s 2019 Military Consumers and Marketplace Trust report, visit BBB.org/Military.