Every year in July, organizations and government agencies focus their efforts on working to protect the military consumer. The purpose of this annual campaign is to raise awareness of how military service members and their families are at a heightened risk for fraud scams and identity theft. Learn more about how you can protect active and retired veterans in your life during Military Consumer Protection Month.

Copycat websites

Scammers are getting smarter by posing as websites that look exactly like legitimate military websites. These are called copycat websites because they use official looking logos, mottos and information stolen from other online resources. These website scammers prompt consumers to submit their information to learn more about joining the armed forces in which then the information is shared to military recruitment agencies for profit. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) states that these actions are considered impostor schemes which are the most frequent type of fraud complaint from military consumers.

“Those who are considering a military career deserve to have confidence that the recruitment site is legitimate and their personal information will not be misused,” said FTC Chairman Joe Simons.

Fraudulant charities

Unfortunately, many consumers fall victim to fraudulent charities. They prey on military veterans, disabled veterans and their families. These scammers not only use fake websites, but send advertisements through email, robo phone calls and social media. It is important to educate yourself and others to recognize charitable solicitation fraud and identifiable legitimate charities. Here are some tips.

  • Look up a charity’s report and ratings by using give.org, charitywatch.org, guidestar.org or charitynavigator.org.
  • Never pay by gift card or wire transfer. Credit card and check are safer.
  • Watch out for names that only look like well-known charities.
  • Ask how much of your donation goes to the program you want to support.

The FTC along with law enforement officials and charity regulators from more than 70 offices in every state and D.C. announced more than 100 actions initivates have been launched to crackdown on fradulant charities that con consumers out of their money by falsely promising their donations will help veterans and service members.

Identity Theft

Millions of people each year fall victim to identity theft or military scams. It can cost you money, time and stress. Avoid clicking links or attachments in unsolicited emails and only use trusted sources such as legitimate government websites for information. Here are nine ways to prevent identity theft.

  1. Check your credit: Federal law entitles you to a free credit report each year. If you are a deploying service member, place an active-duty alert on your credit report.
  2. Install anti-virus protections on your computer: Update these regularly.
  3. Shop online carefully: Only provide your credit card information on sites that use secure technology.
  4. Don’t share: Don’t share private or personal information such as social security numbers or bank information.
  5. Private passwords: Use strong passwords on all platforms and do not share them with anyone else.
  6. Social media: Don’t overshare as thieves can get hints to answer security questions on your accounts. Don’t ever post your full name, phone number, or address.
  7. Don’t open phishing emails: Phishing emails are links from someone you don’t know that can launch a virus on your computer and capture personal information.
  8. Military ID security: Never leave your military ID in the car. Always keep it in a safe place.
  9. Destroy ID information: Delete personal information such as military records from computers, cell phones and other devices when you get rid of them.

To learn more on Military ID theft, visit https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/pdf-0016-military-identity-theft.pdf

To learn more about Military Consumer Protection Month, visit http://www.MilitaryConsumer.gov

This month, Lone Star Legal Aid will engage with its military and veteran communities via virtual outreach and story sharing. Subscribe to our blog at http://www.lonestarlegal.org and receive email updates, connect with us on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/LoneStarLegalAid), Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/lonestarlegalaid/), and Twitter (https://twitter.com/LStarLegal), and share our posts, videos, and tips. There, you’ll be able to join one of our live information sessions to spread the word. 

Tune-in on July 24, 2020, at 3 PM on Facebook Live, to catch our Military Veterans Unit.

Lone Star Legal Aid is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit law firm focused on advocacy on behalf of low-income and underserved populations. Lone Star Legal Aid serves millions of people at 125% of federal poverty guidelines that reside in 72 counties in the eastern and Gulf Coast regions of Texas, and 4 counties of southwest Arkansas. Lone Star Legal Aid focuses its resources on maintaining, enhancing, and protecting income and economic stability; preserving housing; improving outcomes for children; establishing and sustaining family safety and stability, health and well‐being; and assisting populations with special vulnerabilities, like those who have disabilities, or who are elderly, homeless, or have limited English language skills. To learn more about Lone Star Legal Aid, visit our website at http://www.lonestarlegal.org.

Media contact: Clarissa Ayala, cayala@lonestarlegal.org