Friday, June 01, 2007

Scam Targets Military Spouses

Pass this on to spouses of deployed service members. Most of us know to never give out sensitive information over the phone. Spouses of augmented personnel, for example, may not be aware of the protocol.

Thank you to the American Forces Press Service.

WASHINGTON, May 31, 2007 - The American Red Cross is warning military
spouses about a new identity-theft scam that targets family members of
deployed troops.

The Red Cross was alerted of the scam earlier this month, said Devorah
Goldburg of the Red Cross.

The scam involves a person with an American accent calling a military
spouse, identifying herself as a representative of the Red Cross, and
telling the spouse that her husband was hurt in Iraq and was medically
evacuated to Germany. The caller then says that doctors can't start
treatment until paperwork is completed, and that to start the paperwork they
need the spouse to verify her husband's social security number and date of

It is hard to determine how many spouses have been targeted by this scam,
Goldburg said, as there are many ways for spouses to report problems like
this. However, one confirmed report was enough for the Red Cross to act, she

"We know that it happened to one person; it was probably going to happen to
others, and we wanted to be prudent and alert people," she said.

American Red Cross representatives typically do not contact military members
or dependents directly and almost always go through a commander or first
sergeant, according to a Red Cross news release. Military family members are
urged not to give out any personal information over the phone if contacted
by unknown individuals, including confirmation that their spouse is

In addition, Red Cross representatives contact military members or
dependents directly only in response to an emergency message initiated by a
family member, the news release said. The Red Cross does not report any type
of casualty information to family members; the Defense Department will
contact families directly about family members' injuries.

It is a federal crime, punishable by up to five years in prison, for a
person to fraudulently pretend to be a member of, or an agent for, the
American Red Cross for the purpose of soliciting, collecting, or receiving
money or material, according to the news release. Any military family member
that receives such a call is urged to report it to their local family
readiness group or military personnel flight.

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