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Scammers Targeting Deployed Soldiers

By Faye Mergel
Published: Wednesday, December 23rd, 2009

It might sound like a parody, but the thing is no joke for soldiers whose identities are stolen by scammers. “Operation Desert Scam” is a term coined by investigators in referring to this latest scam which targets deployed soldiers. Specialists say there is no steadfast way for soldiers and their family to protect themselves, but they can check their credit report to deter any scam artist attempting to victimize them.

Scammers Targeting Deployed SoldiersThis week, a scammer attempted to steal the identity of a deployed Wisconsin National Guard Soldier by using his name and other personal information. Investigators say the scam artist got the information from a news article and used it in an attempt to sell a vehicle from a buyer in Oklahoma. The supposed buyer became suspicious of the seller’s identity and contacted the Wisconsin National Guard.
Major Joseph Adamson, Wisconsin National Guard’s marshal, said the soldier has not suffered any financial loss until now as a result of the attempt to steal his identity. He added that the scammer did not obtain sensitive information because he only got those personal details from a news article.

Adamson warned that there is no guarantee that soldiers and consumers in general, can protect themselves from scammers who fish personal identifying information from news articles. The only protection he could suggest is vigilance in monitoring one’s financial accounts and being mindful of unexpected or dubious charges.

Adamson further said there are cases when it is necessary to contact all three major credit report bureaus to make sure that one’s identity is not being used by anyone else. If any instance of identity theft is suspected, he suggested filing a police report immediately. Moreover, consumers can better protect themselves if they raise a red flag on their credit report. Specialists say a red flag will prevent creditors from accessing a person’s credit report. If the suspected identity theft is confirmed, a victim is advised to freeze his credit report until the ID theft case is solved.

Consumers are advised to be very mindful of activities in their credit report since being an ID theft victim has huge consequences. Adamson explained that victims spend several months and even years just to regain their identity, not to mention the money it takes to recover from its negative impact.
Adamson noted that there are no National Guard soldiers yet who were victimized by ID thieves, but there are several cases where their family members became victims. In some instances, the scammers would ask money from a soldier’s family for an emergency.

The marshal concluded that being wary of scammers and regularly checking a credit report is the best protection consumers can give themselves.

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