Milwaukee, Wis. – Memorial Day, the unofficial start of summer, is also a time to honor those who have lost their lives for our country.

Unfortunately, scammers use this time of year to take advantage of victims in a variety of schemes with a patriotic or military approach.

In 2021, active-duty military reported losing significantly more money ($300) than military spouses ($170) or veterans ($220). While the percentages of military spouses (43.0%) and veterans (42.7%) who reported losing money when exposed to a scam were nearly identical to the percentage of the general population (42.8%) reporting monetary loss, the susceptibility of active-duty military (60.7%) was about 42% higher than the overall population’s susceptibility according to the 2021 BBB Risk Report.

BBB’s Military Line provides free resources, such as financial literacy information, access to BBB services, Scam Alerts, and complaint and dispute resolution for all branches of the U.S. military.

BBB warns of the following scams that are typically directed at service members:

High-priced military loans – Advertisements for loans that promise a guarantee, instant approval or no credit check will often come with hidden fees and extremely high interest rates. Remember that legitimate lenders will never guarantee a loan before you apply, and loans that require an upfront fee are likely a scam.

Veterans’ benefits buyout plans – This buyout plan will offer a cash payment in exchange for a disabled veteran’s future benefits or pension payments. The cash amount is only about 30-40% of what the veteran is entitled to. These buyout plans can be structured in several different ways, so research thoroughly before signing anything over.

Fake rental properties – Stolen photos of legitimate rental properties are used in advertisements that promise military discounts and other incentives. Service members will have to pay a fee via wire transfer for security payments or a key to the property – in the end they will receive nothing.

Misleading car sales – Websites posting classified ads will offer false discounts for military personnel or claim to be from soldiers who need to sell their vehicle fast since they have been deployed. Upfront fees will be required via wire transfer, or the vehicle will have problems after purchase.

Expensive life insurance policies – Members of the military are often the targets of high pressured sales pitches that offer unnecessary, expensive life insurance policies. Solicitors may make false statements regarding the benefits that these policies offer.

Tips to avoid scams:

Do your research – Get as much information as you can about a business or charity before you pay or donate. A good start to your search would be to check out a business’ BBB Business Profile and/or see if the BBB has a report on the charity.

Never wire transfer money to anyone you don’t know –  Money sent via wire transfer is practically impossible to track. Pay or donate by credit card whenever possible, since you can dispute charges more easily.

Protect your computer – Don’t click on the links within unsolicited emails. Don’t enter personal information on unfamiliar websites. Make sure that you have updated anti-virus software installed and use a firewall at all times.

Put an Active Duty alert on your credit reports when deployed – Doing so will minimize the risk of identity theft because creditors and businesses cannot issue or grant credit until verifying identity.

Tips before making a charitable donation:

Get the charity’s exact name – There areover 28,000 veterans and military service organizations in the U.S. Make certain the one soliciting you is the one you have in mind. Mistaken identity is a common problem.

Watch out for excessive pressure to donate – Honest charities won’t pressure to make an on-the-spot gift decision. Donors always have the choice to find out more about the charity so they can give with confidence.

Check the website for basics – Information on the charity’s mission, programs, and finances should be easily accessible on its website. Look for a report at

Find out if the charity meets BBB Charity Standards. Check for a report on BBB’s the webiste of the BBB Wise Giving Alliance.

Check with state government officials. In about 40 states, charities are required to register to solicit, usually with either the office of the attorney general or the secretary of state. Keep in mind, registration with a state agency does not constitute or imply endorsement or recommendation by that state.

For additional advice on military and veterans charities, click here.

More information

BBB’s Military Line provides free resources, such as financial literacy information, access to BBB services, Scam Alerts, and complaint and dispute resolution for all branches of the U.S. military.

Visit BBB Scam Tracker to track and report scams in your area.

For information on businesses and charities you can trust, visit

For more information or further inquiries, contact the Wisconsin BBB at, 414-847-6000 or 1-800-273-1002. Consumers also can find more information about how to protect themselves from scams by following the Wisconsin BBB on FacebookTwitterInstagram and YouTube.

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