Members of the military community reported more than 110,000 cases of fraud to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in 2021, with more than 44,000 of those targeted by impostor scams – fraudsters using all manner of false identities to reach into their victims’ wallets or mine their personal data.
For some scammers, those efforts paid off: Victims reported $103.9 million in losses last year, per the FTC report.
The FTC highlighted these scams in a July 5 blog post marking Military Consumer Month, offering advice for avoiding and reporting such fraud. In addition to FTC resources, MOAA has provided several online guides, archived webinars (for Premium and Life members), and other materials. We’ve also joined the Partnership to Fight Cybercrime along with dozens of military and veterans groups, as well as nonprofits and other organizations, to provide further scam-avoidance support.
Drawing from those resources, here’s a quick look at four types of impostor fraud often targeting servicemembers, veterans, and others connected to the uniformed services:
- Government fakes: Scammers will pretend to represent the IRS, the VA, or another branch of the government, sometimes claiming an overdue bill or offering to provide (or expedite) an earned benefit in exchange for personal data or payment. The best course of action is to hang up or delete the email – if you’re concerned the request could be real, use the contact information available on the agency’s official website to follow up.
- Charity fakes: The military community’s generosity can be too much for scammers to resist. Some fake solicitors may pretend to be from a reputable charity, while others may set up a fake front for donations. Avoid these scams by donating directly to trusted groups instead of relying on solicitations.
- Tech fakes: Having trouble with your laptop? Got an unsolicited call from someone claiming to be tech support, asking you to click a link or download a patch? Don’t assume the two are connected – providing access to your device to a “repairman” can prove incredibly costly.
- Military fakes: Scammers pretending to be military members seeking money for an emergency during a deployment may find more willing victims among the uniformed services committee. These unsolicited contacts regularly request payment via gift card or other nonrefundable method.
Get more details on combating these scams and others at FightCybercrime.org.
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