Before President Eisenhower’s proclamation establishing Veterans Day in 1954, Nov. 11 was known as Armistice Day, a celebration acknowledging the end of fighting during World War I at 11 a.m. on Nov. 11, 1918 (the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month). In recognition of the sacrifices and honor due to military veterans, official ceremonies take place in the memorial amphitheater built around the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier on Nov. 11 at 11 a.m. with the laying of a presidential wreath, often directly from the hands of the sitting U.S. president.
Approximately seven percent of the adult population are veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces ranging from 18 to over 100 years old and served in various conflicts such as the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Global War on Terrorism and World War II. Many men and women who served in the military find the transition to civilian life after service mentally, emotionally and physically challenging. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs states that common challenges U.S. veterans face when re-entering the civilian sector include:
• Joining or creating a community.
• Creating structure. • Relating to people who do not know or understand what military personnel has experienced.
• Adjusting to a different pace of life or work.
In addition to these challenges, the military community also must defend themselves against predatory business tactics, con artists and government impostors. According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), veterans and military retirees have lost more than $290 million to fraud, with a median loss of $700, since 2017. Approximately 29% of reports submitted to the FTC are regarding instances of government impostor scams which also account for the most money lost, $33.5 million.
According to data generated by BBB Scam Tracker, Texas veterans have reported more than $407,000 lost to scams across the Lone Star state since January 2021. The most common scams impacting Texas veterans this year are:
• Online purchase scams: Accounts for 29% of reports totaling nearly $40,000 lost.
• Phishing scams: Accounts for 16% of reports totaling over $26,000 lost.
• Employment scams: Accounts for 8% of reports totaling over $37,000 lost.
While not as common at only 1.7% of reports, utility scams have cost Texas veterans over $48,000 in losses, specifically from con artists claiming to represent solar energy companies.
To help protect Texas veterans from falling victim to scams, BBB provides the following tips:
• Do your research. The first line of defense is often the strongest. Spend the time to research a company before purchasing their services or goods. Review business profiles on BBB.org and check government websites if the service is required to be licensed, such as interstate moving companies or companies using pesticides.
• Avoid aggressive selling tactics. Companies and businesses that pressure consumers to immediately contract their services without allowing time to obtain quotes or estimates from competitors should be handled cautiously. While companies must follow up with potential customers and clients to achieve success, aggressive selling tactics may signify that the company is not invested in the consumer's interests.
• Beware emotional appeals. Exercise care when engaging with businesses that use targeted emotional reactions to entice donations or contributions from consumers. Consumers should focus on what an organization is doing to address an issue with an emotional appeal, not just the fact it exists. For example, donations to assist homeless veterans are very popular surrounding the Veterans Day holiday. However, it should be apparent what the organization is doing to impact homeless veterans and its effect. Consumers can use BBB's Wise Giving Alliance to find a list of accredited charities on Give.org.
• Never wire money to strangers. Money that is sent via wire transfer is extremely difficult to track and nearly impossible to have reimbursed. BBB recommends using a credit card for online purchases whenever possible. Charges on credit cards are easier to dispute and be refunded when engaging with a business that does not provide the purchased service or goods.
Visit BBB.org/Military for more tips and resources to protect active-duty and veteran service members from engaging with fraudulent businesses.
The FTC provides resources focused on military consumer protection at MilitaryConsumer.gov.
Current and prior military service members who have been victims of a scam are encouraged to report their experience to BBB Scam Tracker. Information provided may prevent another person from falling victim.
ABOUT BBB: For more than 100 years, the Better Business Bureau has been helping people find businesses, brands and charities they can trust. In 2020, people turned to BBB more than 220 million times for BBB Business Profiles on 6.2 million businesses and Charity Reports on 11,000 charities, all available for free at BBB.org. There are local, independent BBBs across the United States, Canada and Mexico.