HARTFORD, Conn. - Attorney General William Tong, Connecticut Department of Veterans Affairs Commissioner Thomas Saadi, Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection Commissioner Michelle H. Seagull, and Major General Francis J. Evon Jr., Adjutant General of the Connecticut National Guard, today marked Military Consumer Month by urging residents to remain vigilant against military imposter and affiliation scams.

Scammers pretending to have charities that support service members and veterans often prey on consumers' emotions and desire to support veterans, service members, and their families. Charities are not the only military imposter scams. Scammers conducting door-to-door sales may use a fake military story to manipulate consumers and defraud them, costing consumers their hard-earned cash.

“We need to do everything we can to lend a helping hand to those who have sacrificed everything to defend our country and protect our families. It’s important for consumers to take caution against scammers who try to profit off of others’ generosity and compassion by posing as a military or veterans’ organization. By educating consumers on steps they can take to protect themselves from fraud, we can ensure any type of charitable aid is helping our veterans and servicemembers directly. Our veterans deserve nothing less,” said Attorney General Tong.

“Veterans and members of our military may be more likely to be targeted by scam artists because these criminals know their potential victims often have a steady income and are more trusting when the scam is veiled with a patriotic pitch or as an exclusive offer to military personnel. The scam artists often shower victims with thanks and praise for their service with the goal of stealing their money, their identity or both. That is why I am proud to work with Attorney General Tong, Commissioner Seagull and others to educate and protect those who served to protect us," said Commissioner Saadi.

“Scammers who try to take advantage of our generosity count on us not doing our research, and being misinformed,” said Commissioner Seagull. “That’s why we’re encouraging families to take a few minutes to do their homework before they commit to supporting any charity, or cause. It’s incredibly important that when our goal is to support our veterans and service members, that our money goes to the right place, that’s going to give the most support to those who need it.”

"We are grateful for the generosity of the consumers who support our military members and veterans. By encouraging education and extreme vigilance when selecting the charities and organizations that they affiliate with, we can ensure that consumers are kept safe from fraud and the military members and veterans receive the aid that they deserve. We are appreciative to Attorney General Tong for leading the effort to protect our community and our members and we will continue to work together to assist with proactive education measures to protect consumers from future military imposter and affiliation scams," said Adjutant General Evon.

Consumers should educate themselves and increase their awareness to avoid being victimized by military imposter and affiliation scams.

Consumers should always independently verify and confirm contact information by a company or organization’s representative. If someone asks for personal information such as social security numbers, account numbers, and dates of birth, residents should immediately be suspicious.

Consumers can take these steps to protect themselves against military imposter and affiliation scams:

• Exercise healthy skepticism. Make sure that you do research, and read reviews about any company, person, or charity;

• Don’t be rushed into a financial commitment. Always do your research and review your budget before agreeing to give to a charity or pay for goods or services, especially if you’re committing to a subscription plan;

• If someone claiming to be a legitimate charity solicits funds from you, ensure they’re registered with the Department of Consumer Protection first by visiting https://www.elicense.ct.gov/Lookup/LicenseLookup.aspx. If someone claims to be from an organization that you already know, but they seem like they might be an imposter, go to the source. Use the contact information you have for that organization to follow up. Don’t call back a number or use information given to you by someone who doesn’t seem trustworthy;

• If you’re getting work done that requires a contract, make sure it is in writing. Also, take care to read and fully understand all the agreement terms before work begins; and,

• Listen for "Warning Bells." Does the solicitor seem forceful, manipulative, or annoyed when you ask questions? If so, end the interaction.

Anyone who has questions or concerns about possible scams targeting military service members or veterans can contact the Office of the Attorney General by filing a complaint athttps://portal.ct.gov/AG/Common/Complaint-Form-Landing-page .

Connecticut Media Group