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Identity fraud – should I be concerned?

And why renters are particular targets

Identity fraud – should I be concerned?

Posted on 09/09/2022

Forces Mutual

Filed under Insurance

Fraud is estimated to cost the UK £137 billion every year[1].

According to a recent AARP survey in the USA the military community - veterans, serving military and their families continue to be targeted significantly more by con-artists[2].

Recent research by the Citizens Advice Bureau has found that more than three quarters of UK adults have been targeted by a scammer this year, with imposter scams very common[3].

Typically, when someone commits an imposter crime they pretend to be someone else, for example from the government or a trusted military group such as Veterans Services. They try and obtain NI numbers, bank account details and other personal information.

As with many fraud crimes the people sound convincing, and you need to be on your guard and address any concerns you have rather than leaving it and seeing what happens. Instinct is normally a good barometer for things like this – just like it probably serves you well in the field.

Rental property scams can target military personnel and their families looking for housing near a base. According to Militaryonesource in the USA, scammers sometimes even pose to be estate agents helping people to rent out property near an army base[4]. They can post fake adverts for rental properties which offer specific military discounts and incentives to attract their target victim. A common scam here is to get people to send them a rental deposit and fees but then end up losing the fees and no rental property exists.

Other scams can include offering credit to people which can be particularly attractive if you have a poor credit rating. According to Militaryonesource in the USA [5], rogues can play on this and offer credit when someone doesn’t have a strong credit record, or to someone with a poor credit history. Some fraudsters even set up fake military charities like wounded or disabled veterans to target and source money from good hearted military personnel. 

So why are the military such attractive targets and can you do anything about that?

Firstly, many military personnel are young, often having moved away from their home base for the first time, and inexperienced dealing with finances and household decisions such as renting property. And the mentality of hard-working military young people can be that they are untouchable, so they aren’t alert to possible scams. People who are exposed to physical dangers may be more susceptible to “paper” or non-violent crimes.

At the other end of the scale older people are targeted as they can be seen as a soft touch in relation to online and digital scams, as well as being in a position to make charitable donations. And of course, if someone is wanting to commit identity fraud, then pretending to be an upstanding military person is attractive to them!

Another big reason military personnel and family may be targeted for fraud is due to the frequent relocating, which means personal information is shared around a lot more, potentially making people more exposed. And this often comes with the partner looking for flexible, shorter term, work from home jobs which exposes them to employment scams.

Communication and taking a breath can be really helpful tools here. If someone contacts you and you aren’t sure then take time to check, think about it, and ask your colleagues or friends what they think. Often articulating the situation makes you realise something is amiss. And you can check the details of the company that is contacting you independently to see if they are consistent.

It is always good practice too, to check your credit record regularly so you can pick up if anything has occurred on your credit record. 

Fraud can impact your bank balance but also your mental wellbeing, leaving you with a sense of powerlessness, frustration, violation and lack of trust. Try and not become the next victim, but it could be comforting to know that Forces Mutual Kit & Personal Possessions Insurance covers you for identity fraud as standard. There is also an identity theft helpline provided by Ageas Insurance Limited.

Kit & Personal Possessions Insurance is provided by Ageas Insurance Limited.

Find out more: Military Kit & Personal Possessions Insurance | Forces Mutual

PMGI Limited, trading as Forces Mutual is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. The firm is on the Financial Services Register, registration number 114942. Registered in England & Wales number 1073408. Registered office: 55 Gracechurch Street, London, EC3V 0RL.

[1]The financial cost of fraud 2021 | Crowe UK, page 7 of the report

[2] Scambush: Military Veterans Battle Surprise Attacks from Scams & Fraud (aarp.org), page 6

[3] Over 40 million targeted by scammers as the cost-of-living crisis bites - Citizens Advice

[4]  https://www.militaryonesource.mil/military-life-cycle/friends-extended-family/learn-the-warning-signs-of-military-scams 

[5] Military Scams | Common Tricks and How to Avoid Them (militaryonesource.mil)