The Better Business Bureau Institute for Marketplace Trust (BBB Institute) partnered with the Association of Military Banks of America (AMBA), an organization that is comprised of banking institutions that serve military personnel and their families around the world, to issue a new report, “Military Consumers & Marketplace Trust: An Analysis of Marketplace Challenges Facing the Military Community.”

The report, which was released to coincide with Military Consumer Month, highlights how military consumers are more likely to face higher losses to scammers and other fraud.

The report looked at more than 28,000 business complaints and 5,000 scam reports that were submitted to the BBB by military consumers last year. This was compared to reports by all U.S. and Canadian consumers. The BBB Institute and AMBA highlighted the key differences reported by military consumers.

Military consumers have reported losing a median of $200 when falling victim to a scam, 32% higher than the $152 average reported by all consumers in 2018.

One factor was that trust is vitally important to those in the military community, and scammers often prey on individuals who must make quick purchasing decisions. The BBB study noted military consumers are often forced to make quicker purchasing decisions than the majority of consumers during Permanent Change of Station moves.

Times of Transition

Military consumers have filed more complaints about securing and maintaining their homes, moving, and purchases related to relocation than the general population. In addition, it was those in the military who also reported higher rates of losing money to home improvement scammers.

“Our data shows that military consumers have unique marketplace challenges and face increased financial losses to scams, especially during times of transition,” Melissa Bittner of the BBB Institute for Marketplace Trust and principal author of the report, told ClearanceJobs via an email.

“Relocation, deployment, retirement, transitioning to civilian life – these can be hectic and stressful times, which scammers see as opportunities,” added Bittner. “We hope that calling attention to this despicable tactic will help remind military consumers to be especially vigilant during times of change.”

Relocation can also make finding secure, stable employment a challenge for spouses and other family members, which can put a strain on families.

“There are legal protections in place to support service members and their families in the marketplace, but scammers don’t care about what is legal or ethical,” said Steven Lepper, president and CEO of AMBA, via a statement.

“Education is our best defense to prevent military consumers from losing their money to fraudsters,” added Lepper. “It’s our duty to ensure high-quality financial readiness resources get into the hands of our men and women in uniform. Reports like these help guide our education efforts, and we are proud to partner with the Better Business Bureau in advancing a trustworthy marketplace.”

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Peter Suciu is a freelance writer who covers business technology and cyber security. He currently lives in Michigan and can be reached at petersuciu@gmail.com.