Skyrocketing Fraud Losses in the Military Community
The grim fraud statistics came amid bright spots for military consumers. While fraud reports jumped 69%, to 110,827, identity theft reports fell nearly 12%, to 49,854, and other consumer complaints – involving credit bureaus, banks and other entities, for example – fell about 6%, to 49,318.
Other key findings from the report:
- Among military consumers, 26% of those filing fraud reports lost money.
- Imposter scams alone cost military consumers nearly $104 million last year.
- Military consumers suffered a median fraud loss of $600, higher than the median of $500 among consumers in general.
- Active duty members had the highest median fraud loss ($881), followed by reservists and Guard members ($758), veterans ($570) and spouses and dependents of personnel on active duty ($536).
- The highest median fraud loss for military consumers is related to investment fraud, such as fake day trading opportunities, fake commodities, and fake investment products. Here, the median loss was $3,000.
- Among military consumers, veterans reported the highest number of fraud complaints, followed by active duty military members, their spouses and dependents, and members of the Reserves and National Guard.
The Consumer Sentinel Network collects reports from law enforcement, consumer protection agencies, and partners, including AARP’s Fraud Watch Network. Its reports fall into three categories: fraud, identity theft and other consumer complaints that run the gamut from faulty devices to predatory lending.
How to arm yourself against scams and fraud
- Frequently check your credit statements and credit reports to spot unauthorized charges and other issues.
- Check your reports separately from Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. You can get them at AnnualCreditReport.com.
- Never react to an urgent request for funds by buying gift cards or reloadable cards or by sending a bank transfer.
- Learn more about detecting scams and protecting your identity at MilitaryConsumer.gov/protecta website operated by the FTC, the Department of Defense, and other partners.
AARP’s Fraud Watch Network has other resources, including alerts on the latest scams, a scam tracker map, tip sheets, and a podcast called The perfect scam.
The AARP Watchdog Alert Handbook: Veterans’ Edition explains 10 ways scammers target veterans. Members of the military community who have received suspicious emails, text messages, phone calls or letters can report them to trained volunteers by emailing [email protected] or calling the AARP Fraud Hotline Watch Network toll-free at 877-908. -3360.
Aaron Kassraie writes about issues important to military veterans and their families for AARP. He is also a general assignment reporter. Kassraie previously covered U.S. foreign policy as a Washington bureau correspondent for the Kuwait News Agency and worked in news gathering for USA today and Al Jazeera English.