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Beware of local scams targeting military families and veterans

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WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — The Better Business Bureau of Northwest North Carolina is using the upcoming holiday as an opportunity to warn veterans and their families of potential scams targeting them.

A release from the BBB said, "With focus deservedly on our nation’s veterans and active-duty military, these men and women may also see increased attention from scammers."

Some examples include:

  • Impersonating a military or veteran charity's website and soliciting for donations.
  • Posing as the Veterans Administration (VA) to contact veterans about updating their credit card, bank or other financial records with the VA.
  • Charging service members for services they could get for free, such as military records.
  • Convincing veterans to transfer their assets into fraudulent investment schemes.
  • Offering guaranteed military loans that can have high interest rates and hidden fees.
  • Advertising housing online with military discounts and incentives, and then bilking service personnel out of security deposits.
  • Trying to sell products security systems to spouses of deployed military personnel by saying the service member ordered it to protect his or her family;
  • Selling stolen vehicles at low prices by claiming to be a soldier who needs to sell fast because he's been deployed.
  • Posing as government contractors recruiting veterans and then asking for a copy of the job applicant's passport which can lead to identity theft.
  • Posing on online dating services as a lonely service member in a remote part of Iraq or Afghanistan, and then asking for money to be wired to a third party for some emergency.

BBB President and C.E.O. Brian Wright tells FOX8, "It's disgraceful. We've got the military that really stands for our freedom, and it's unfortunate people are taking advantage of them."

FOX8 also talked to people at Veterans Helping Veterans Heal on North Glenn Avenue in Winston-Salem.

http://vhvh.org/

The organization offers a safe living space for at least two dozen veterans in the community. But it's much more than a roof over their heads; the veterans there learn life skills while they recover from substance abuse or mental health issues.

VHVH Director of Operations Brian Hahne says the veterans they work with are already struggling to find stability and certainly don't need any additional hardships, such as being victimized by a scam artist.

"It's a vulnerable population," he explained. "Our veterans have served our country. I stress all the time- these guys have earned the opportunity to be part of this program by serving our country. And yet unfortunately there are scams out there targeting them as well."

The BBB encourages consumers to donate wisely this holiday in honor of veterans. Check Give.Org to make sure a group is legitimately collecting money for veterans and military-related causes.

Memorial Day weekend shoppers should also be cautious. Read the fine print and return policies, Wright emphasized, and when possible pay with a credit card so disputes will be easier later.