Orlando, Fla. (PRWEB) December 1, 2008
America's military families are the latest target of financial scams. Military personnel are often young and transient, but they earn a regular paycheck from Uncle Sam - making them prime targets for shady sales practices and financial scammers. The Winter 2008-09 issue of Military Money® magazine uncovers common scams aimed at the men and women who protect our country and provides tips to help families detect and avoid them.
New laws and Department of Defense rules are designed to shield military families from the bad guys. The problems haven't entirely disappeared, as abuses in the sale of insurance and investments are starting to surface. But state and federal regulators, local organizations and the military are on the alert. Kimberly Lankford, in a recent report for Kiplinger's Personal Finance magazine and updated in Military Money, groups the scams into four areas - and shows how families can protect themselves and find far better deals on the products offered:
- Unsuitable insurance. Several unscrupulous agents have misrepresented their companies' affiliation with the U.S. military. What you can do: (1) Max out your military insurance first. Servicemembers' Group Life Insurance (SGLI) costs only 6.5 cents per $1,000 of coverage per month. (2) Check out insurers and agents with your state insurance department. Ask about licensing, complaints and disciplinary actions.
- High-fee investments. Salespeople for companies pushing high-fee investments pounce on military personnel who receive a financial windfall, such as deployment pay. What you can do: (1) Take advantage of the military's Savings Deposit Program. Members of the military deployed in certain regions can deposit up to $10,000 into a special account that pays up to 10% per year. (2) Check the broker's record. Use FINRA's BrokerCheck tool (http://www.finra.org) to obtain information on a broker's licensing status and any disciplinary actions.
- Affinity fraud. Scammers will use any affiliation with the military, whether real or not, to gain a family's trust. What you can do: (1) Check out the company or salesperson with the base community service office. Some offices maintain a database that cross-references complaints made to various on-base offices as well as the local Better Business Bureau. (2) Put an active-duty alert on your credit report. This free alert asks creditors to take extra precautions to verify the identity of an applicant before extending credit.
- Predatory lending. Advance-fee or payday lenders target cash-strapped military members, requiring loan payments of as much as $900 or even $1,800 up front. What you can do: (1) Get a 0% loan through a military emergency relief fund. Contact the community service office at your base for details. (2) Join a credit union. On-base credit unions often offer short-term loans at competitive interest rates.
Military Money is a personal finance and lifestyle magazine geared towards families of military service members. Published by InCharge® Education Foundation, Inc., it is distributed four times per year, free of charge, through many U.S.-based military bases, commissaries and family centers, as well as inside the European-based Stars & Stripes newspaper. The magazine addresses such personal finance issues as money management, home and family life for military families, career advice, deployment and relocation and transitioning to the civilian world.
Among other important topics featured in the Winter 2008-09 issue of Military Money:
- Keith Wilson, director of education service for the Veterans Benefit Administration, discusses the new GI Bill in an exclusive Military Money interview.
- "Choosing the Right Investments" offers a guide to understanding your investment choices, how different types of investments put your money to work, and your risk tolerance.
- "Home Ownership: American Dream or Nightmare?" reviews many unique factors military families must consider before deciding to purchase a home.
The publication of Military Money is made possible through the generous financial support of a number of prominent public- and private-sector organizations including the FINRA (Financial Industry Regulatory Authority) Investor Education Foundation, which leads a multi-faceted education campaign for U.S. military members and their families. The FINRA Foundation supports innovative research and educational projects that give underserved Americans the knowledge, skills and tools necessary for financial success throughout life. Key projects include http://www.SaveAndInvest.org, an online resource aimed at helping military members and their families manage their money with confidence.
First launched in 2003, Military Money magazine is part of the Department of Defense's "Financial Readiness Campaign," and distributed with the support of the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness. The Military Money web site, http://www.MilitaryMoney.com, complements the magazine with additional content, calculators, surveys and other interactive tools.
For more information on corporate, government and nonprofit sponsorships, please contact Ed Koziol, Manager of Publication Partnerships for InCharge Education Foundation, at 407-532-5616.
Headquartered in Orlando, Florida, InCharge® Institute of America, Inc., is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization with affiliates specializing in personal finance education and credit counseling. InCharge® Education Foundation, Inc., publishes Military Money® magazine and offers financial literacy education to clients and the general public. InCharge® Debt Solutions provides professional credit counseling and financial education services to consumers and is a member of the Association of Independent Consumer Credit Counseling Agencies (AICCCA). Consumers can access InCharge Debt Solutions credit counseling services for free by calling 1-888-360-9694 or online at http://www.incharge.org.