Military Family Member: Phone Scam Overview
There are nearly 1.5 million active duty military personnel in the United States that are serving both abroad and domestically. In addition, to this there nearly another one million reserve personnel and over 21 million veterans.
Active duty military personnel, reserves, veterans, and their families, can be more of a target for scammers, than civilians for fraud and identity theft. The FTC received 96,578 complaints from military consumers in 2015. The U.S. Army reported the majority of these complaints with 48%, they were followed by the U.S. Navy (21%), the U.S. Air Force (20%), the U.S. Marines (10%) and the U.S. Coast Guard (2%).
There are many variations of military family phone scams, here are just a few of the variations.
The Variations of This Scam
The first variation involves getting a call from someone claiming to be a member of the Red Cross and stating that your deployed family member has been involved in an accident or attack. The caller will state that your family member requires surgery, this surgery involves a fee in order to get them back home. Victims will often pay without questioning the situation, this ugly scam is very similar to the paramedic impersonator phone scam.
The second variation of this scam involves the caller stating that your family member in the military is going to be promoted. The caller will give you details about the ceremony and state that they are calling the families of other military members who will also be promoted to see if they would like to donate money in order to purchase a gift for their family member on their special day. The caller will inform you that the gifts are designed to commemorate the day.
Other variations of military scams include romance scammers stealing the identity of military personnel to use in their scams, and fraudulent charity phone scams, where scammers call and ask for donations to help veterans.
How To Handle This Situation
The first thing that you need to realize is that the military takes care of any medical expenses incurred in the line of duty. This means if you receive a call from a doctor claiming they need payment for medical expenses this is a scam.
In the second situation, the fact that the caller asks for payment via wire transfer or prepaid debit cards is a major red flag. In addition, the army will never call to ask you send money to help purchase a gift for your family member.
Where Can You Get Information?
The best way to prevent fraud is to know your rights and report any suspected scams to the proper authorities. Never trust an unsolicited phone call in which the caller asks for your personal information. In cases, such as these say you'll call back later and hang up. If you think you've been targeted by a scammer be sure to report it to local authorities, your state's attorney general and the correct government organizations.
If you suspect that a number is being used to perpetrate phone scams involving military family members you should also report it in CallerSmart's community phone book. You can leave your feedback on any U.S. phone number in our online phone directory, or in our phone tracing app for iPhone.