DATCP, WDVA recognize Military Consumer Protection Month

For the Tomahawk Leader

WISCONSIN – The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) and the Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs (WDVA) recently offered information on fraud, identity theft and other consumer issues as part of Military Consumer Protection Month.

According to a release from DATCP, in 2023, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) received more than 192,000 reports of fraud, identity theft and other consumer issues from active duty military personnel, retirees, veterans, reserve and National Guard forces and family members.

“Whether they encounter scams or unfair business practices, current and former service members and their families can count on the DATCP for help,” DATCP stated.

“July is Military Consumer Protection Month, and DATCP recognizes the unique circumstances faced by consumers who are serving, or previously served, in our armed forces,” said DATCP Secretary Randy Romanski. “Unfortunately, they are often targeted by scammers hoping to take advantage of their distinct culture, tight-knit community and, in the case of active duty service members, their busy lives and distance from home. If you are a military consumer, know that DATCP is here and ready to protect you year-round.”

DATCP said that in 2023, more than one in three reports to the FTC from military consumers indicated they lost money to fraud. More than $477 million in losses were reported in total, with $350 million being taken from military retirees and veterans. With more than 42,000 reports, the top fraud category was imposter scams, followed by online shopping fraud with more than 13,000 reports. The third top category, investment-related scams, received just under 4,000 reports – but those reports indicated the highest median losses of $7,000.00.

“Service members, veterans and their families have already given so much to this nation,” said Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary-designee James Bond. “It is appalling to hear about bad actors targeting and taking advantage of them. I’m thankful to DATCP for recognizing this issue and providing resources to combat scams and fraud in our state. WDVA and our partners stand ready to help former service members protect the benefits they’ve earned. If you need assistance, please know there are free resources available.”

Last year, there were more than 39,000 reports of identity theft, with active duty service members being nearly three times more likely than the general public to report theft directly from their bank accounts, according to DATCP.

“Rapid response is key to recovering from identity theft, making service members more vulnerable if their duties prevent them from quickly identifying and addressing the problem,” DATCP stated. “Consider setting up fraud alerts on your credit cards and a security freeze on your credit report, which alerts you as soon as a new account is requested in your name.”

For more information and consumer protection resources or to file a complaint, visit DATCP’s Consumer Protection webpage at www.ConsumerProtection.wi.gov or contact the Consumer Protection Hotline at 800-422-7128 or [email protected].

If you need assistance with federal and state veteran benefits, contact your County or Tribal Veteran Service Officer, who will guide you through the process. For state veteran benefit inquiries, call 1-800-WisVets, email [email protected] or visit www.wisvets.com.

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