Be Mindful of Scams Targeting Veterans

veterans-day-scam-blog

As families honor former military personnel on Veterans Day, Better Business Bureau serving the Northwest urges consumers to remain vigilant against scammers targeting veterans.

The  Consumer Sentinel Network reports nearly 100,000 military members complained of being targeted by financial crimes in 2015, with identity theft and impostor scams topping the list. Con artists often use malevolent tactics to steal the money and identities of veterans and their families.

Better Business Bureau reminds service men and women to watch for these common military scams:

Phone Scams: Impostors pose as Veterans Administration employees and call veterans to request they update their credit card, bank or other financial records with the VA. Fraudsters use scare tactics by threatening cancelation of benefits to collect birthdates, Social Security numbers and bank account information.

Rental Listings: Cyber thieves create bogus online rental listings and lure in potential victims by offering military discounts. Victims are asked to wire deposits and first month’s rent to “landlords” who happen to be out of the country.

Military Loans: Sketchy lenders promise “instant approvals” and no credit checks, but loans often carry extremely high interest rates and hidden fees.

Insurance Policies: Solicitors make false statements or inflate claims regarding the benefits of policies they offer, using high-pressured sales pitches to sell expensive—and often unnecessary—life insurance policies.

Donors looking to give to a military-affiliated charity this Veterans Day are urged to use Wise Giving Alliance in finding a trustworthy charity.  Consumers are also advised to research businesses through bbb.org before giving out personal information, making payments or giving donations.

Since 2012, service men and women have been utilizing BBB’s Military Line, a program that provides free resources to all branches of the U.S. military, including financial literacy information, scam alerts and access to BBB services such as complaint handling and dispute resolution.

Military Millennials: What’s Your Emergency Savings Tactical Mission Plan?

Military Millenials 6.30.16

Written by guest blogger Letty Stevens, AFC®

Millennial servicemembers, do you have an emergency savings SMEAC? Whether you’re just building emergency savings or adding to it, here’s a basic emergency savings tactical mission plan for you to use today. When you have a plan, it’s easier to save.

S: Situation

M: Mission

E: Execution

A: Administration and logistics

C: Command signal (terms, code and signals)

SITUATION: If you are not saving a percentage of each paycheck to create an emergency savings account and to save for your financial goals, you may have a serious situation on your hands. What stops someone from saving up for his or her financial goals? Let’s think about this. The opposite of saving is spending, and you are surrounded by this enemy every day. This enemy is highly trained in the marketing of its product. When you go into a grocery store, you are the target.

From the music you hear to the colors you see, everything is strategically implemented to get you to spend your hard earned money. Even Harvard contributes to the science of marketing. It’s no wonder so many people are in debt!

MISSION: The mission of Military Saves is to help you reduce debt and build long-term wealth through financial action. So, how do we learn to do this?

  • Reading: It is best to learn from those who are succeeding at financial management. Reading about financial management is a good start. You are reading this article, so we can check that box.
  • Speaking: Make talking about your finances a healthy conversation by focusing on goals. But who can you talk with? Who do you trust enough to speak freely about something as personal as your finances? If you are married, please start the conversation with your spouse. I reference this list before speaking with my spouse about our finances. If you are having a hard time speaking with your spouse about your finances, you can always get free assistance from financial professionals on your installation. Military OneSource also has financial counselors available, and they are just a phone call away.
  • Doing: This situation requires a plan. A financial plan is unique to the individual because it often depends on what you value. What do you value? When you know what your values are, you can easily identify where you want your money to go and, more importantly, where the financial holes are. This is the beginning of a budget. The younger you start learning, the more you can save.
  • Teaching: It is our parents who provide the foundation for our adult lives. Unfortunately, not everyone learns good money habits from their parents. If this is the case, teach yourself. Newly married couples teach each other. Parents, teach your children.

EXECUTION: Start the conversation today! The sooner you begin reading and talking about savings, the sooner you can start to change your behavior to line up with your financial goals. What percentage of your pay can you save per paycheck? When will you set up that automatic savings deposit at the bank? Who is your buddy who will hold you accountable? You have a stable paycheck and numerous resources to help you along as you create your financial plan and work on your financial goals.

ADMINISTRATION: You are the sole administrator of your finances. When a married servicemember deploys, the spouse often becomes the administrator. Should you seek expert advice, again the free financial counseling found on your installation is the way to go.

COMMAND/ SIGNAL: You are a confident servicemember. Are you confident that you can reduce your spending and increase your saving? Since you’ve already started by reading this blog, you should be confident. Keep reading, keep learning and keep saving.

Set a goal. Make a plan. Save automatically.

Financial Readiness Sees Changes: BBB Military Line Offers Assistance

Military Scams Blog 5.23.16

Financial readiness is high priority for the military. To ensure a fully operable military, the lives of service members must also be well-equipped.

Recently Lt. Gen. Karen E. Dyson visited Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington to discuss the Army Financial Management Optimization Campaign. Dyson’s stop to the Pacific Northwest was one of three visits to installations in order to discuss the plan.

Dyson spoke at a town hall meeting on how I Corps is working to improve readiness. Dyson said the Army is focusing its energy on standardizing business processes and improving how they deliver financial management support to soldiers.

Carla K. Coulson, Director of Installation Services of the Army, spoke on the same subject during the Hot Topic forum on Army Installation Management in April.

Coulson said the Army plans to deliver enhanced financial readiness training at every “life event” in a soldier’s career. This includes marriage, childbirth and re-enlistment. This readiness training is expected to begin in fiscal year 2017.

Financial security for military families is a great area of interest for Better Business Bureau. That is evident with the formation of BBB Military Line. The program was created for military consumers and their families. It was established within the BBB Institute for Marketplace Trust, the education foundation of the Council of Better Business Bureaus. Its goal is to bring consumer education, BBB services and advocacy to a group that is often a target for scammers and unethical business practices. The program encourages military consumers to use BBB consumer education materials, business reviews and dispute resolution services.

While BBB services and educational resources are provided online, the majority of outreach is performed by individual BBBs across the country — who teach financial readiness workshops, support local community events, and actively engage military consumers within their respective service areas.

Financial education workshops available through local participating BBBs are:

  • How to be a Smart Consumer
  • Deals for Wheels
  • How to Buy a Home
  • Investing for Retirement
  • Scams and ID Theft
  • Smart Investing
  • Investing in Higher Education

Better Business Bureau serving the Northwest is able to provide these types of services through its Development Team. For more information on workshops designated toward military personnel email Development Director Savannah Kimball at savannah.kimball@thebbb.org or call 206-676-4105. For more information on BBB Military Line visit www.bbbmarketplacetrust.org.