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Beware of military scams

Norwalk Reflector Staff • Jul 17, 2014 at 7:07 PM

In recognition of Military Consumer Protection Day, which was Wednesday, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine is encouraging active-duty military members, veterans, and other Ohioans to beware of military-related scams.

“Those who serve our country deserve not only our sincere thanks and appreciation but also our help avoiding scams and solving consumer problems,” DeWine said. “The unique challenges of military life can make it difficult to handle issues like identity theft or disputes with a business, and we want Ohioans who are in the military to know we are here to help.”

On Wednesday, representatives from the Ohio Attorney General’s Office were on site at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base to promote consumer resources and warn of scams as part of a Military Consumer Protection Day event organized in collaboration with the Federal Trade Commission, the Airman and Family Readiness Center, and other consumer protection partners.

Each year, the Ohio Attorney General’s Office receives hundreds of consumer complaints from individuals who identify themselves as active-duty military members or veterans. While many of the complaints involve typical consumer transactions, such as home improvement or motor vehicle sales, others involve potential scams.

Service members and civilians alike should beware of military-related scams including:

    Early leave scams – Scammers contact the family members of a deployed service member and ask them to send money so that the service member can go on early leave.

    Online vehicle scams – A con artist posts a vehicle for sale online and pretends to be a soldier who is about to be deployed and must sell the vehicle quickly.

    Veterans charity scams – Individuals or phony organizations solicit donations to help veterans, but the money is not used to help veterans.

    Military romance scams – A scammer pretends to be a soldier and develops an online relationship with the victim, eventually asking the victim to send money.

    Identity theft – An impersonator steals the identity of an active-duty military member to open fraudulent accounts or otherwise pretend to be the service member.

Earlier this year Attorney General DeWine pushed for new legislation to establish harsher penalties for those who commit identity fraud against active-duty service members and their spouses. The changes, which take effect Sept. 16, increase the penalties for felons who target active-duty service members or their spouses. 

The Ohio Attorney General’s Office provides an expedited consumer complaint process for active-duty service members and their immediate family members. It also provides a pro bono program, called the Patriot Program, to provide certain legal services at no cost to active-duty military members. Examples of free services include living wills, power of attorney designations, and notary services.

During Military Consumer Protection Day, government agencies, advocacy organizations, and private sector groups highlight free consumer resources for service members, their families, and veterans. The Military Consumer Protection Day website is www.military.ncpw.gov.

Organizations are encouraged to request a consumer speaker from the Ohio Attorney General’s Office by visiting www.OhioAttorneyGeneral.gov/Cons... or calling 800-282-0515.

For more information or to get help, Ohioans should contact the Attorney General’s Office at 800-282-0515 or www.OhioAttorneyGeneral.gov.

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