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Mar 9, 2018

Military Consumers and Sentinel: A deeper dive

by Monica Vaca

Last week, we gave you an overview of the latest Consumer Sentinel Network Data Book. Today, let’s look a bit more closely at the data from military consumers. We got more than 113,000 reports from military consumers in 2017. Although not all of them gave details about their military status, more than 28,000 are servicemembers, their family members, and inactive Reserve or National Guard, and more than 78,000 are military retirees or veterans. Here are a few interesting take-aways.
Identity theft and imposter scams were among the top reports for both the general population and the military community. Imposter scammers pretend to be someone you trust, to convince you to send them money or personal information. There are many variations on the scheme. People may pretend to be from the government or from a business with technical support expertise. Others lie about being your online love or say there’s an emergency with your family member. These kinds of scams cost military consumers more money than any other type of scam, with $25 million reported lost. Military median losses were $699. For other consumers, the median loss was $500.
We’re not sure why, but military folks reported median losses much greater than civilians did for other frauds, too. For instance, the median loss from the general population for all types of fraud was $429, but for military consumers, it was $619. That’s more than 44% higher. On the other hand, military consumers also told us they lost money in just 15% of the frauds they reported, versus 21% in the general population. That tells us that military consumers are doing a great job reporting consumer fraud to the FTC, even if they didn’t lose money to it. More reports yield more data, tell a more detailed story, and help law enforcement go after unlawful practices.
We want to hear about your experiences. If you spot a scam, tell the FTC – and you also will be telling more than 2,300 law enforcers who are members of the Consumer Sentinel Network.

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