SAN DIEGO (KGTV)— There has been a recent increase in scams targeting service members. Sailors at Naval Base San Diego discussed the issue with California Attorney General Rob Bonta Friday morning.
You join the military, and you get stationed far from home. You find a great deal on your dream car, and you hear something like this.
"I am former military. I am current military. You can trust me. I'm part of the family."
But before you sign, Attorney General Rob Bonta said to make sure you are dealing with a reputable party.
"They might not be endorsed by the Armed Forces. They might just be using that as a way to earn your trust," Bonta said.
Too often, Bonta said that trust turns into astronomical interest rates. You are now a victim of popular scams targeting military members. They fall into five categories:
AFFINITY SCAMS: Scammers target an identifiable group, such as the military. They may pretend to be members of the group to gain your trust, only to trick you into unnecessarily large purchases.
DEBT COLLECTION AND ILLEGAL THREATS: Debt collectors may lie and say they can revoke security clearances or call your command for up-front cash.
RENTAL HOUSING SCAMS: Scammers target military families looking for housing near a base. They may collect down payments on fake properties.
PREDATORY AUTO SALES AND FINANCING: Car dealers may lure service members into special military discounts but often tack on astronomically high interest rates.
SWEETHEART SCAMS: Scammers may post fake social media profiles, gain your trust, and ask for money.
"To meet that individual, which is a false identity, they click on links, and money is taken from them," Naval Base San Diego Captain Ted Carlson said.
Bonta said military members get targeted because they are often on the move, with little time to check the fine print, and they are young.
"Often, many of them are young people who don't have a lot of financial experience in their young lives. Haven't seen a lot of different products to compare to know which ones are good or which ones are bad, and they were promised the world and taken advantage of," Bonta explained.
All branches are offering courses by financial experts on how to avoid scams so they never become victims again.
"We want them to know that this is not their fault," Bonta said. "They are the victim, and they are deserving of support and services, and the people like the California Department of Justice and me as the Attorney General to fight for you, and that's what we'll do."
If you feel that you may have become a victim of one or many of these scams, head to the Attorney General's office help link HERE.