PORTLAND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- Welcome to the Oregon FBI’s Tech Tuesday segment. Today: Building a digital defense for those who have given so much to defend our country.
Veterans Day allows us to celebrate the service of U.S. military members and honor the sacrifices that they – and their families – have made. It is also a time to educate military families about those who wish to profit off their service.
Unfortunately, military families may be more vulnerable to scams than the average American. A 2018 study by the Federal Trade Commission showed service members lost more than $25 million to just imposter scams over the course of a year. The median loss for a military member: about $700… $200 more than the median loss for the average person.
Imposter fraud is a pretty simple scam. The bad guy pretends to be someone else, gains your trust, and convinces you to send money. He can pose as a potential employer offering a much-needed job, a lottery official promising a big prize, or even a government agent threatening arrest. No matter who he impersonates, his goal is to always get you to pay up.
What can you do to protect yourself:
- Be wary of any call from someone claiming to be from the government who requests personal info or money.
- Think twice before paying any supposed debt or fee with a wire transfer or gift card.
- Don’t trust caller ID or the name on the email address or user ID. All can be faked.
- If in doubt, call the business or agency back from a publicly-available number to confirm what you’ve been offered or threatened with.
Finally – some good news for veterans. Our friends at the FTC announced just a few weeks ago that the three major U.S. consumer reporting agencies will soon start offering free credit monitoring to active duty U.S. military members and members of the National Guard. To qualify as an active duty member – you must be assigned away from your usual duty station. All members of the National Guard will qualify regardless of where you are stationed.
As always, if you have been victimized by a cyber fraud, be sure to report it to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.IC3.gov or call your local FBI office.
These are the links service members can use to access the credit reporting agencies' military programs: