How to Protect Yourself Against Scammers Targeting the Military

The only problem was, Talcott didn’t have any sort of account at Bank of America. She was the target of a common internet fraud scheme known as phishing where scammers try to get you to reveal personal information.

Fortunately, Talcott knew the signs and simply ignored the email. But she says she’s seen plenty of scams during her career as an Accredited Financial Counselor®. Currently a Personal Financial Management Specialist at Naval Air Station Pensacola’s Fleet and Family Support Center, she says she’s seen a wide variety of scams that target service members.

Talcott sees lots of scams involving online sales sites. Bait and switch tactics – where an item is advertised as one thing and then turns out to be something else – are common. She says she recently had a service member come to her after wiring $450 to purchase a cell phone that turned out to be nothing more than a box full of shredded paper.

Not all scams are online. Working in the Florida panhandle, Talcott encounters her fair share of post-hurricane fraud schemes. After a big storm, “roofers” will knock on doors claiming that they are offering a neighborhood discount and that they have just worked on someone else’s roof up the street. They require an up-front deposit, but never end up completing the work. She’s seen the same scam with contractors claiming to be painters or solar-panel installers.

Here are some ways that you can protect yourself from fraud:

Be skeptical – The old adage is true: if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Don’t pay upfront for a promise. Don’t believe your caller ID, because scammers can fake phone numbers. Call back a genuine number that you have used in the past to confirm the information.

Hang up on robocalls – If you pick up a call and hear a recorded sales pitch, hang up. Not only are robocalls illegal, they are also very likely pitching bogus products. Report these calls to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

Consider how you pay – Credit cards carry certain protections against fraud; if you wire money or pay via gift card, it is almost impossible to get your money back.

Do your research – Before you buy a product or service, search online to see if there are reviews or complaints. If you get a letter or call that claims to be from a company or a government agency, do a search on that as well.

Sign up for free scam alerts – Sign up for the FTC’s scam alerts and find out about recent scams plus tips and advice for avoiding them.

If you’re ever in doubt about a potential fraud situation, or think you may be the victim of fraud, you can visit the FTC’s Complaint Assistant where you can research scams and even chat with a technical support specialist. You can also go see a personal financial counselor or manager at your local family readiness center and they will be able to direct you to more resources.

Tip of the Day

  • Written by Guest Blogger | September 30, 2014

    Participate in the Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) - a retirement savings and investment plan for Federal employees and members of the Uniformed Services. It offers the same types of savings and tax benefits that many private corporations offer their employees under 401(k) plans. More info at

Saver Stories View all »

Setting a Goal Leads to Success

Written by Super User | May 24, 2019

Growing up, Marisa’s dad had always talked about saving first, but she said she didn’t really internalize it until much later. “I was drifting along with no plan, carrying a little bit of revolving debt, saving some money here and there, but without a real plan for it.”


How Smart Financial Decisions Can Create Opportunities 

Written by | November 22, 2019

Written by Stephen Ross, America Saves Program Coordinator | November 22, 2019

Of the many stories Military Saves shares, most describe how someone was in dire straits financially and worked their way out of it with the help of Military Saves. This time we want to highlight a different kind of story. This is a story about how responsible financial decisions can build on one another to create opportunities you thought only the super-rich enjoy.


From Shopaholic to Saver

Written by Jackie Toops | January 13, 2021

Many of us spend too much money on things we don’t need, but we don’t always know why. It’s easy to get a quick fix from retail therapy, but before we know it, our hard-earned money is gone. Oftentimes, when we engage in a “shopaholic” lifestyle or sporadic shopping sprees, we still experience feelings of emptiness, but to make it worse, we now have debt, too.

Khanmany was a shopaholic who turned everything around. She is active duty Navy and shares, “I was spending too much on things I didn't need. I was going shopping for no reason and was trying to fill a void. I was running up every credit card I owned to include Victoria's Secret, Military Star, Navy Federal, TJ Maxx, JCPenney, Macy's, USAA, and was only paying the minimum payments.”