AG Alert July Recognized as Military Consumer Protection Month
LITTLE ROCK — Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge and the Federal Trade Commission shed light on consumer protection issues affecting many American consumers, especially members of the United States armed forces, during the month of July .
While no one is immune to falling prey to scams, some scams target those who serve the nation in uniform.
“Scammers prey on the fact that American service members are the most sacrificial people and exploit their generosity for profit,” Rutledge said. “It’s important that current and former members of our armed forces, and their families, are able to identify these types of scams so they don’t fall victim to them.”
His office released the following tips and common scams that military service members and veterans should exercise caution before proceeding:
• Beware of scammers who charge money for free recordings. Scammers will try to convince veterans to pay for documents that are already free. To receive copies of VA or military records, contact the Department of Veterans Affairs, National Achievements, or the appropriate service branch.
• Beware of any exclusive deals reserved for veterans. In some cases, there are legitimate offers for veterans, but in many cases, the items are not discounted at all, but are non-existent products and services. It’s best to check out products before buying and “never send money to someone you don’t know”.
• Be careful when someone asks for an upfront payment. It’s a common scam for scammers to demand payment or large sums of money up front and some will even go so far as to pretend to be overseas military. No legitimate business will ever demand full payment up front and “that’s a red flag”.
• Beware of any person or entity demanding monetary compensation for filing veterans disability claims. The claims process is free and can be submitted by coordinating with a certified county veterans service officer or any Veterans Administration claims representative. The Arkansas Department of Veterans Affairs can help you find a certified CVSO.
• Beware of emails claiming to be from a legitimate organization that does not have its own domain name. An official email from a legitimate business or organization should not be from an email address ending in “@gmail.com” or “@yahoo.com” and “this should be a red flag “.
• Be careful with any correspondence that contains spelling and grammatical errors. Legitimate companies and organizations usually proofread documents and emails carefully before sending them. “Mistakes can be a red flag for fraud.”
• Be careful with suspicious links and high pressure requests. Scammers will say and do anything to steal personal information. By sending a link via email or SMS that the consumer clicks on, scammers can steal all the personal information stored on the device. “Never click on a link sent by an unknown source.”
• Beware of unsolicited investment advice. Some scammers have disguised themselves as veterans advocates and claim that victims are entitled to additional veterans benefits. If someone approaches you in this manner, confirm the suspected state regulatory office, hang up, and call the office directly independently.
In 2019, Rutledge successfully sued Andrew Gamber; Voyager Financial Group, LLC; BAIC, Inc.; and SoBell Corp. for brokering contracts offering high-interest credit to veterans in exchange for investors illegally acquiring the right to receive future pension payments.
The following year, Rutledge sued Candy Kern-Fuller and Howard Sutter, attorneys for the UpState Law Group in South Carolina, for “substantially assisting brokers in the illegal sale of future veterans’ pension payments”. Kern-Fuller and Sutter are accused of developing the contract. approval, payment collection and execution process. Brokerage firms falsely told veterans they were selling their future payments for a discounted lump sum. In reality, veterans’ pension assignment contracts were high-interest loans that were zero from the start. and unfair acts and practices violate state and federal laws protecting veterans. »
Arkansas military service members, veterans, and families can file consumer complaints with the Office of the Attorney General at ArkansasAG.gov.