If you’re a member of the military, you’ve probably already go a lot on your plate: frequent moves, training, and the looming threat of being sent into combat.
But besides the clear and present danger of war, soldiers have found themselves targeted by another enemy: scammers. Service members file complaints for identity theft at twice the rate of the general population, according to a 2013 report from Federal Trade Commission.
The FTC has noticed a steady climb in the number of complaints coming from military victims who have fallen prey to scammers. So why are military members disproportionately targeted by scammers?
Helping us figure it out is Carol Kando-Pineda, an FTC attorney who manages the agency’s outreach to the military.
Pineda says military members move around a lot and don’t have a home base, which makes them vulnerable to scam artists.
“We find service members are getting into trouble with either deceptive loaners or deals that are really just not in their best interest,” she says.
Some scammers even pose as fellow military members, she says, in order to gain trust and pretend to have service people’s best interests at heart. She says everyone should be skeptical and always do research on companies that offer too-good-to-be-true deals.
“Don’t just jump into a deal because it sounds good and the salesperson is very persuasive,” she says. “You want to get everything in writing, take it away, cool down and look at it at home, read all the terms, check it with somebody you trust.”
When anyone from a company contacts you unsolicited, you should search online to see if others have been targets as well. Searching for complaints about the company will help you avoid falling victim to scammers. For further alerts, Pineda says to go to ftc.gov/suscribe and sign up for spam alerts.