Whether it’s the steady paycheck, frequent relocations, or the aspects of military life, scammers often target service members and their families.
Last year, military consumers across the nation reported over 93,000 fraud complaints, scamming them out of $164 million in 2022, according to California Attorney General Rob Bonta.
“It can feel violating, maybe even embarrassing, but there is nothing to be ashamed of. There’s nothing that you’ve done wrong. You’re the victim,” said Bonta.
San Diego is a military town so it’s not surprising that these types of scams can hit close to home.
“When Go Navy Tax Services ran a tax and insurance scheme out of a trailer adorned with military flags located just outside of Naval Base San Diego, we shut down the operation and secured $1 million in restitution for defrauded sailors,” Bonta added.
He said that there are always new scams and ways people approach military members to take away their money, but these are some of the most common:
- Charity scams: they use names that sound legitimate or mimic well-known charities.
- Predatory schools: they go after military members and their GI bills with high-pressure sales tactics
- Home loan scams: they try to convince homeowners to refinance their homes or agree to loan modifications
“Identity theft and fraud, job scams, pension scams, affinity fraud, debt collection and illegal threats, rental housing scams, and predatory auto sales and financing, all of which pose serious threats to military consumers,” Bonta said.
What can you do to protect yourself?
- Regularly check your credit card bills and bank statements. You can spot charges and withdrawals you didn’t make so you can take swift action
- Freeze your credit
- If you become a victim of identity theft, place a fraud alert with the credit reporting agencies
- Report it at the Federal Trade Commission
- File a police report with local law enforcement
“To those bad actors, I say we’re on to you,” Bonta said. “We will hold you accountable. And more than anything, I’m here to tell our military community, we’ve got your back. We support you,” Bonta concluded.
If you have been scammed or do have your identity stolen, you can contact the legal office on your base for help as well.
Editor’s Note: This story previously stated military members were scammed out of $164,000 last year. That number has been corrected to $164 million.