AG Cooper shares tips, resources with military consumers
Release date: 7/17/2013
July 17 is Military Consumer Protection Day
Raleigh: Consumer protection resources are available in North Carolina for members of the military and their families, said Attorney General Roy Cooper on Military Consumer Protection Day.
“Members of our armed services help protect our nation, and we need to make sure we help protect them from bad deals and shady businesses,” Cooper said.
North Carolina’s active-duty military population is the fourth largest in the country. Military men and women stationed in North Carolina and their families can turn to the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division for help if they have trouble with a business or fall victim to a scam.
To help active duty and retired service members and their families, state attorneys general, the Federal Trade Commission, the US Department of Defense, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the Better Business Bureau and other groups have partnered for the nation’s first-ever Military Consumer Protection Day. The goal is to help military consumers make informed decisions with their money and to raise awareness about potential scams and available consumer protection resources.
Cooper and experts from his Consumer Protection Division will visit Seymour Johnson Air Force Base in Goldsboro tomorrow to help educate service members about common sources of complaints from military consumers including car sales, identity theft, credit, and lending. In May, Cooper made a similar visit to Camp Lejeune in Jacksonville, and a visit to Fort Bragg is scheduled for September.
“Active duty military personnel are often young, away from home for the first time and earning their first steady paycheck,” Cooper said. “Unfortunately, this can make them a prime target for scammers and criminals.”
For Military Consumer Protection Day, Cooper offered the following key consumer tips for military personnel:
Never pay upfront to get a loan or credit card.
Watch out for people who try to exploit a military connection to win your trust and take your money.
Say no to high-pressure sales tactics, especially if someone tries to push you to make a quick decision on a major purchase.
Be cautious when buying a used car. Get it checked out thoroughly by a trusted, independent mechanic, and remember that most used cars are sold as is.
Avoid self-serving “Financial Planners” offering to help you invest your deployment pay, reenlistment bonus, or retirement pay. Roth IRAs and the military’s Savings Deposit Program are among the safest ways to protect your hard-earned dollars.
Get insurance you need, not what someone wants to sell you. Some insurance agents try to use hard sell tactics to convince military personnel to buy insurance they don’t need
Military personnel and their family members can file a consumer complaint with the Attorney General’s Office by calling 1-877-5-NO-SCAM toll-free within North Carolina or filling out the complaint form
complaint form at www.ncdoj.gov
. Cooper’s office has also put together a guide for military consumers
, available at ncdoj.gov/military.aspx
and distributed to military installations statewide.
Cooper has shared his office’s expertise on military consumer issues with other states and the federal government. He joined last month with 12 other state attorneys general to urge U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel to better protect service members from abusive lending practices such as payday loans, car title loans, and tax refund anticipation loans. Such loans often target members of the military and can trap consumers with high interest rates and fees.
“Before we chased payday lenders out of North Carolina, they used to cluster around our military bases, waiting to lure in young service members in need of quick cash,” Cooper said. “This problem still exists in other states, and we’ve also seen new types of unfair loans pop up to take advantage of military consumers.”
Cooper recently worked with attorneys general from Kentucky, Illinois and Indiana and the US Department of Justice to develop a toolkit to help protect military consumers who may be targeted by unscrupulous businesses and scammers. The toolkit was distributed to all state and territorial attorneys general in March.
Media contact: Noelle Talley (919) 716-6413