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Experts want to help troops improve finances, avoid scams

Jul. 17, 2013 - 10:38AM   |  
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More than 25 federal and state agencies, consumer advocates and industry groups have launched an effort to educate troops and veterans about personal financial management issues, protecting personal information, and avoiding scams, starting with “Military Consumer Protection Day” today, July 17.

The Federal Trade Commission, Defense Department, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and Military Saves are leading the effort. They’ve put together a website with educational materials aimed at helping service members, veterans, personal finance managers, commanders and community leaders. The effort is similar to the national consumer protection week, held this year in March.

Service members, veterans and their families “are targets for fraud because they relocate frequently, and many are living on their own and earning a steady paycheck for the first time,” said Jessica Rich, director of FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, in a statement announcing the effort.

About 70 percent of complaints received from the military community in 2012 were from retirees or veterans, according to the agency’s statistics. Nine percent were from active-duty members and 10 percent were from active-duty spouses.

Those 62,211 complaints from the military/veteran community represented 6 percent of the 1 million complaints received from consumers nationwide.

The largest number of military-related complaints — about 37 percent — were related to identity theft. The next highest were complaints related to debt collection at 11 percent, followed by imposter scams at 7 percent.

More than half of the military identity theft cases were related to government documents or benefits fraud.

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