Consumer Alert – It is Military Appreciation Month, Beware of Scammers

May is National Military Appreciation Month, a time to recognize the 94,369 selfless active-duty service members from North Carolina and the sacrifices they make for our nation. Unfortunately, scams that target servicemembers and veterans are more common than you might think. Members of the military and their relatives can be vulnerable to scams and fraud because they travel frequently and do business in new places with unfamiliar companies. Their families may also be targeted by criminals who seek to take advantage of their fears and concerns about their loved one’s safety.

Follow our tips to avoid military scammers:

  1. Do not pay upfront on loans or credit cards. Some scammers will try to lure in vulnerable military families with advance fee loan scams. Be on the lookout for loan brokers who try to pressure you into paying them in advance for a loan. Remember, it is against North Carolina law to charge an advance fee on a credit card or loan.
  2. Speed check: slow down when shopping for cars at the dealership. Some sellers will use unfair business practices, particularly on used vehicles, to target service members. Be sure to look into the car’s history and check in with a mechanic before you sign and drive off the lot.
  3. Beware of those faking a military connection. Sometimes scammers will attempt to lower your guard by claiming a connection to or referencing the military. Just because a business alleges that they are for servicemembers, doesn’t mean they are. Don’t be fooled by those exploiting your patriotism and service.
  4. Seek the assistance of a Veterans Affairs accredited representative, attorney, or Veterans Service Organization. Some unaccredited people and companies engage in questionable practices, including charging high prices for completing and submitting documents to the VA for people applying for veteran benefits. When applying for veteran benefits, use a VA-accredited claims agent, VA-accredited attorney, or a recognized Veterans Services Organization, which can be found at https://www.ebenefits.va.gov/ebenefits/vso-search.
  5. Avoid Veterans Choice Program scams. Make sure to call the real number: 866-606-8198. If you’re not sure you’re on the line with the actual Veterans Choice Program, hang up and start over.

For more information or tips to protect yourself or a loved one, view our Military Scam Guide here.

If you think you may have been the victim of a scam, contact our office’s Consumer Protection Division at 1-877-5-NO-SCAM or file a complaint online at www.ncdoj.gov/complaint.

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