Don't fall for these Memorial Day scams

What most people see as a patriotic holiday, crooks see as an opportunity to prey on support for military members shown each Memorial Day.

The Better Business Bureau is warning Americans to beware of scams tied to the Memorial Day weekend, flagging what have been ripoffs traditionally linked to the occasion.

According to the BBB, they include:

  • Impersonating a military or veteran charity to solicit donations.
  • Posing as the Veterans Administration (VA) under the guise of asking veterans to update credit card, bank or other financial records with the VA.
  • Assessing fees for services that military member could get for free.
  • Offering military loans with high interest rates and hidden fees.
  • Advertising housing online with military discounts and incentives just to snag the security deposits.
  • Selling stolen vehicles at low prices by claiming to be a soldier who needs to sell fast because he's been deployed.
  • Posing as government contractors recruiting veterans and then asking for a copy of the job applicant's passport, which can lead to identity theft.
  • Using social networks or dating services to get victims to wire money to help what they are led to believe is a deployed service member.

To avoid falling victim to such scams, research any charity before giving. Check it out through such services as CharityNavigator.org or Give.org. Don't transfer money to someone you don't personally know through a wire transfer service.

If you're on active duty, the BBB recommends putting an "Active Duty alert" on your credit reports to limit the risk of identity theft.

Be leery of too-good-to-be-true offers, whether it's for a vehicle, a loan or housing. Don't give out your personal or financial information over the phone or by email to someone you don't know in a dialog you did not initiate.

Have a safe and scam-free Memorial Day holiday.

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    Mitch Lipka is an award-winning consumer columnist. He was in charge of consumer news for AOL's personal finance site and was a senior editor at Consumer Reports. He was also a reporter for The Philadelphia Inquirer and the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, among other publications.