Tips for Consumers: The BBB Reaches Out to Military Families

Tips for Consumers
The BBB Reaches Out to Military Families

At this holiday season, the Better Business Bureau is deeply grateful to the men and women of the armed forces. While they serve overseas protecting us, the BBB works in the Baltimore area to protect them and their families against unsavory con artists. Military families are often victimized by unethical businesses, which take advantage of their steady paychecks, the absence of a family member serving overseas or their unfamiliarity with a new community.
For example, con artists run advertisements for "guaranteed" loans that require a fee in advance. Such loan scams are illegal. Legitimate lenders never guarantee you will get a loan before you apply. Military families are often swindled by "work at home" schemes, such as stuffing envelopes, doing medical billing or handling check processing. Phony companies entice them with promises of lucrative jobs, and then take their money. The "check processing agent" scam sends them counterfeit checks that always bounce, forcing victims to refund thousands of dollars to their local banks. Phony sweepstakes notices or prize offers do the same. Their letters claim "you have won," but you invariably are asked to pay a fee of some sort or provide personal information or bank account numbers. They also send out counterfeit cashier's checks that will bounce a few weeks later.
Payday loan companies charge extraordinarily high interest rates. Military families should check out lower-cost borrowing sources.
Identity theft has become a huge problem for service families. They should not give out any personal information, such as social security or credit card numbers, unless it is a company they know.
To better assist military families, the BBB system has launched BBB MILITARY LINE. A special Web site at www.military.bbb.org provides ready access to BBB services and scam alerts for all four major branches of the military. They can sign up for MILITARY LINE alerts and newsletters, access a special BBB credit education program, check BBB reports on more than two million businesses and charity organizations, and request help in resolving a dispute with a merchant.
Service families who need marketplace assistance are invited to visit
www.military.bbb.org

Always contact the BBB to check out legitimate businesses. Visit their web site, www.baltimore.bbb.org or give them a call 24 hours a day at 410-347-3992. If you have a complaint, use the web site or write them at: BBB, 1414 Key Highway, #100, Baltimore, MD 21230. Their office serves Hagerstown and all of Washington County.