Attorney General Tim Fox Offers Consumer Protection Tips to Military Families
Attorney General Tim Fox is marking National Military Consumer Protection Day today by offering specialized tips to help protect active and retired military personnel and their families from consumer fraud.
“The men and women who bravely serve in our military forces protect our country and its citizens from threats across the globe,” said Attorney General Tim Fox. “Unfortunately, they can still become the victims of identity theft, scams, bad lending practices, and other criminal behaviors during the time they are deployed, when they are back on U.S. soil, and after they have retired from military service. Fortunately, there are a variety of easy-to-use tools and strategies that can be employed to help protect our servicemen and women,” Attorney General Fox added.
The Attorney General offered these tips for military members and their families to avoid scams and fraud:
• Set up an ‘Active Duty Alert’ if you’re deployed and don’t expect to open a new line of credit, such as a car loan, mortgage, or a new credit card. The Active Duty Alert requires creditors to take additional steps to verify your identity before allowing new credit in your name. Active Duty Alerts last for terms of one year, but can be renewed. To set one up, call the fraud department of any of the three credit reporting agencies, or fill out an Active Duty Alert form online. The credit reporting agency you initially alert is then responsible for contacting the other two credit reporting companies.
• Be wary of military-targeted scams such as online postings offering too-good-to-be-true housing rental prices for military personnel, con artists impersonating government contractor recruiters, or scammers pretending to be representatives from the Department of Veterans Affairs.
o Tip 1: never wire money for a housing security deposit and consider utilizing the Department of Defense sponsored Automated Housing Referral Network to find a home.
o Tip 2: Don’t share any personal account or identity information someone who contacted you first. Instead, hang up and call the VA directly and ask them if the VA has been trying to contact you. Do this even if the email address or caller ID says Veterans Affairs. Scammers can manipulate e-mail addresses and caller I.D. to make them look legitimate.
o Tip 3: Never hand over identification documents until you have met with a potential employer at their company location during regular work hours.
• Access your benefits through the VA. Some scammers try to charge veterans for services they can get for free elsewhere, like getting copies of their military record, or applying to receive benefits. However, applying for benefits is always free through the Veterans Benefits Administration.
o Tip: Don’t share any personal information with anyone who contacts you about accessing your veteran’s benefits. Instead, call the Veterans Benefits Administration directly so you know you’re working with a legitimate representative.
To learn more about military consumer protection, and for links to resources, visit the Office of Consumer Protection’s Military Consumer Protection Tips page at www.dojmt.gov/consumer/military-consumer-protection-tips.