Washington, DC - The Federal Trade Commission launched a web page highlighting the work of the agency’s new Military Task Force, which is aimed at identifying the needs of military consumers and developing initiatives to empower servicemembers, veterans, and their families, including through law enforcement actions.
The Military Task Force, comprised of a cross-section of agency representatives, is part of the FTC’s ongoing and collaborative effort to provide resources for the military community.
In 2016, there were more than 100,000 consumer complaints from servicemembers, their dependents, military retirees and veterans, according to data compiled by the FTC. About two-thirds of the complaints were from retirees and veterans. The top complaints from servicemembers by category were impostor scams, identity theft, and debt collection.
“Servicemembers devote their lives to protecting us, so it’s incumbent on us to protect them,” said FTC Acting Chairman Maureen K. Ohlhausen. “This task force will work on identifying the needs of military consumers and work on several initiatives to address those needs.”
Servicemembers, like all consumers, are potential targets for fraudsters. Certain scams are more likely to target the military community because those families may relocate frequently and because many service members are living on their own and earning a paycheck for the first time. Some scammers take advantage of concerns unique to servicemembers, such as the threat of disciplinary action or risk to their security clearance for nonpayment of a financial obligation, which can affect their ability to continue to serve.
This year, the FTC hosted two workshops in coordination with the military community. The first event this past July in San Antonio examined financial issues and scams that can affect military consumers, including active duty servicemembers in all branches and veterans. The second event earlier this month in Los Angeles with state and local partners focused on training military attorneys and financial advisors, law enforcement, prosecution agencies, and consumer protection officials to identify, prevent, and respond to consumer fraud and other issues affecting servicemembers and their families.
Last year, the FTC unveiled Military Consumer, a revamped and mobile-friendly financial readiness website for military personnel, veterans, their families, personal financial managers and others who work with the military community – another major initiative featured on the new task force website.