A recent Better Business Bureau (BBB) report indicates that military spouses and veterans were both more likely to be victimized than non-military consumers. More notably, the median dollar loss was significantly higher – nearly double – than those reported by non-military consumers.
According to the BBB Risk Index, employment scams were the No. 1 riskiest scam in 2018 and 2019, which measures exposure, susceptibility, and monetary loss based on reports to BBB Scam Tracker. It was valid for both the overall consumer population as well as military consumers specifically. When broken out by military demographics, employment scams are the riskiest scam for military spouses and the second most risky scam for veterans.
In the wake of COVID-19, the Employment Scams Report surveyed 10,670 U.S. and Canadian consumers. They reported encountering an employment scam in the last three years, found that nearly three-quarters of those who lost money had trouble paying their monthly bills, and more than half were unemployed. The top reason victims engaged with the scammer was the ability to work from home. Also noted, flexibility was a prime reason for participating in these opportunities.
The 2019 Military Consumers and Marketplace Trust report, published with support from the Association of Military Banks of America, highlighted some of the unique challenges and critical risk factors faced by military and veteran families, especially regarding employment scams. A cumulative look of self-reported data in the Employment Scams Report between February 2016 and May 2020 shows that employment scams are even riskier than previously reported; 19.2% of military spouses and 16.6% of veterans encounter the scam reported a financial loss, compared with 15.5% for non-military consumers. And for every person who reported losing money, at least another worked without pay, yet another lost personal information that could lead to identity theft.
While military spouses reported the most significant financial losses ($1,825) and veterans ($1,905), even service members reported much higher median losses ($1,680) than non-military consumers ($1,000). It likely correlates with the 28% survey respondents stating that they were looking for flexible, “gig” type employment opportunities when they encountered the fraudulent job.
The study showed that prevention and intervention methods could reduce the likelihood of a financial loss. Those who heard of employment scams and tactics before the encounter were significantly less likely to lose money, reinforcing the need to continue outreach about these risky scams. Also, respondents reported that bank tellers and retail employees’ interventions were very helpful in convincing them to walk away before losing money. Thirteen percent of survey respondents said an organization, company, or agency employee tried to intervene and stop the scam – and 69% of the time, they were successful in their efforts.
For tips on how to avoid employment scams, visit BBB.org/EmploymentScams. To read the Military Consumers and Marketplace Trust report, visit BBB.org/MilitaryReport. For more information about BBB’s Military and Veterans Initiative and consumer resources, visit BBB.org/Military.
For more tips on how to be a savvy consumer, go to bbb.org. To report fraudulent activity or unfair business practices, please call BBB at 903-581-5704 or use BBB ScamTracker.
BBB is a nonprofit, business-supported organization that sets and upholds high standards for fair and honest business behavior. Most BBB services to consumers are free of charge. BBB provides objective advice, free BBB Business Profiles on more than 5.3 million companies, 11,000 charity reviews, dispute resolution services, alerts and educational information on topics affecting marketplace trust. Visit bbb.org for more details. There are over 100 local, independent BBBs across the United States, Canada, and Mexico, including BBB Serving Central East Texas, founded in 1985 and serves 19 counties.