Fraud & Scams

Scams That Target the Military

Cameron Huddleston
Cameron Huddleston
February 2, 2024
Scams That Target the Military

Military service members are at a heightened risk of scams, fraud and identity theft than the general public. 

Nearly 53% of active-duty military reported losing money when exposed to scams versus about 41% of the general population, according to a 2022 Better Business Bureau report. And the median amount lost per service member victim was $491 versus $163 for scam victims in the general population.

It’s not just those serving their country who are targeted by scammers. Military spouses and veterans also tend to lose more money to scams and fraud than other consumers. 

That’s why it is important for anyone with ties to the U.S. Armed Forces to be on the lookout for schemes that target them in particular. Here’s what to know about scams directed at past and present service members and their families. 

Common scams targeting the military

Con artists tend to target service members and veterans because they have steady paychecks or pension payments. They also create schemes related to the various benefits and programs offered to service members and veterans. According to the BBB and state and federal agencies, these are the top military scams that are circulating.

Military discount scams 

Con artists take advantage of the fact that military discounts are available for a range of products and services to offer fake deals on cars, electronics and even real estate. Typically, scammers offering military discounts on big-ticket items will ask for an upfront fee or downpayment to be sent via wire transfer. Once they get the money, they disappear without delivering the item. 

Imposter scams 

Scammers pose as representatives from the Department of Veterans Affairs, Defense Finance and Accounting Services, U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command or other government agency ask for personal information to update their files or to verify service members’ identity to determine whether it’s been compromised in a data breach. With that information, scammers can steal service members’ identities.

Military loan scams

Unscrupulous lenders advertise loans with instant approval or no credit check for service members.  However, they come with upfront fees, hiddens fees or extremely high interest rates. According to the BBB, if a lender is guaranteeing a loan before you even apply and charging an upfront fee, it’s a scam. 

Pension scams

Be wary of advisors who offer to shelter your assets to qualify for a VA pension or to help you receive extra VA benefits or increased pension payouts.  Before working with a legal or financial professional, check the VA’s searchable database to see if that person is VA-accredited and has the training to submit claims for you.

VA benefits buyout scams

Scammers offer upfront lump-sum payments to veterans in exchange for any future disability or pension payouts they will receive. The offers typically come with lots of strings attached, the payouts are much lower than the value of the actual benefit they’re replacing, or the payouts don’t even materialize. 

Military records scams

Watch out for offers to gain access to your military records for a fee. Military records, including DD214, are free and can be obtained through the milConnect website.

Veterans charity scams

Scammers target service members and veterans with pleas to donate to charities that supposedly support fellow service members and veterans. Although the charity names sound legitimate, a quick search at or can reveal that these are fake veterans charities or are riddled with complaints and low ratings.

How to avoid military scams

Being aware of common scams that target the military can reduce the risk of becoming a victim. Taking these steps also can help keep your money and personal information safe if a scammer targets you.

  • Never share personal information in response to an unsolicited call, email or text message. Even if it appears that a government agency is contacting you, don’t respond. Reach out to the agency directly to find out if it was trying to reach you.
  • Know what types of payments scammers ask for, including wire transfers, gift cards, cryptocurrency and payment app transfers. Legitimate businesses and organizations won’t ask for these forms of payment. 
  • Resist high-pressure tactics to purchase financial products or enroll in services. Beware of anyone who won’t give you time to think about or research what is being offered to you.
  • Avoid deals that are too good to be true. Find out whether that military discount you’re being offered is legitimate by doing a search online for the deal or product and words such as “complaint,” “reviews” or “scam.” 
  • Reach out to someone you trust before taking any action. Get a second opinion from a friend, family member, representative at your financial institution or local VA office if you get a suspicious call, text, email or offer. 

[ Keep Reading: How to Avoid Military Romance Scams ]

Cameron Huddleston

Cameron Huddleston

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