BBB: Online scams often target military, veterans, their families

Tom Stephens with the Better Business Bureau joins us to discuss the rise in scams targeting members of the military and what service members should look out for to avoid this.

According to a report from the Better Business Bureau, online scams are often directed at members of the military, their families and military veterans.

According to the 2021 Online Shopping Scam Report, more than 10% of online purchase scams reported to BBB Scam Tracker came from the military community.

Active-duty military (78.3%) and military spouses (75.2%) were more likely to report losing money to these scam types than non-military consumers (75%). More concerning is that the median dollar loss for all military consumers—active duty ($178), military spouses ($119), and veterans ($139)—is higher than non-military consumers ($100).

According to the BBB Risk Index, online schemes are rated the riskiest to these populations, followed by employment scams targeting military spouses and veterans.

The good news is that there are simple steps you can take to help reduce your risk of online fraud. The BBB shared this advice during July’s military consumer month.

Online shopping tips:

If it looks too good to be true, it probably is. Don’t shop on price alone. Searching for a low price is the number one reason people reported losing money. Many scammers offer deals that seem too good to pass up; however, they may end up losing money to a counterfeit product or may not even get the product at all.

Beware of phony sellers. Double-check to make sure the website of the seller is safe. Check the URL for errors/misspellings, and never click on a link that looks suspicious. Does the website have accessible contact information? Read online reviews about the company or website and see what others say.

Don’t pay with gift cards! If someone asks you to pay for something with a gift card, like a Google Play or iTunes card, it’s a scam. No real business or government agency will ever insist you pay them with a gift card. Anyone who demands to be paid with a gift card is a scammer.

Know the seller. If the seller or website seems sketchy, it is wise to avoid it. Instead, buy directly from the source (brand, manufacturer, team, etc.) or through an established shop or authorized reseller.

Protect yourself. When buying or selling on a site that offers protection to buyers and sellers, take advantage of them. If a buyer or seller tries to persuade you to go outside the site’s usual process or payment methods, that’s a big red flag.

If you have been targeted by an online scam or wish to learn about common scams in your community, check out the BBB’s Scam Tracker to file a report or read about others’ experiences.

Visit BBB’s online shopping hub and the military and veteran consumer hub for more tips.

For more information

To learn more about BBB’s Military and Veterans Initiative, visit

About the Author:

A Jacksonville native and proud University of North Florida alum, Francine Frazier has been with News4Jax since 2014 after spending nine years at The Florida Times-Union.