BBB: Military families and veterans more likely to lose money to scams

Service members, military spouses and veterans all reported higher likelihoods of losing money and higher median dollar losses to scammers, according to the 2020 BBB Scam Tracker Risk Report. The study published by the BBB Institute for Marketplace Trust (BBB Institute), analyzes scams reported to BBB Scam Tracker. Veterans reported a median loss of $133, military spouses reported a median loss of $132, and active duty service members reported a median loss of $269 – all of which were higher than the $115 median loss reported across all consumers in 2020.

“Historically, we’ve seen higher median losses reported by the military community,” says Melissa Trumpower, BBB Institute Executive Director. “2020 was the first year, however, that we also saw higher rates of military consumers losing money to fraudsters.”

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The loss reported across all consumers was 46.4%. Veterans reported a slightly higher loss at 46.8%. Military families reported the highest loss at 50.8% for military spouses and 59.7% for service members.

“The biggest factor contributing to these higher likelihoods of loss across the board was the increase of online purchase scams and scams perpetrated online in general,” says Trumpower. 

Online purchase scams were the riskiest scam for service members and veterans but the riskiest items purchased online were pets and pet supplies. The riskiest scam for military spouses in 2020 was employment scams. This included flexible, work-from-home opportunities found online that often involved fake check or reshipment scams. In the BBB Pacific Southwest region, online purchase and employment scams topped the list reported by active duty military and veteran consumers, with a total of just over $180k combined loss in 2020, according to BBB Scam Tracker. 

“We continue to work with our partners to combat scams that target the military and share prevention messaging through BBBs serving communities throughout North America,” Trumpower said. To learn more about BBB’s Military and Veterans Initiative, visit

Reprinted by permission of the Better Business Bureau, © 2021.