Financial scams and predatory lending against servicemembers and veterans are so common that the Arizona attorney general has created an advisory board to stop it.

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Military Money and Finance

Avoid Scams Aimed at Troops and Veterans

Financial scams and predatory lending against servicemembers and veterans are so common that the Arizona attorney general has created an advisory board to stop it.

"We got so many complaints that were related to either veterans or active-duty military on our consumer line that I felt it was necessary to set up this coordinating council," Terry Goddard said. "It's been very, very rewarding already and it's only had one meeting."

Goddard, a retired Navy Reserve commander and Arizona's attorney general for the last six years, said he was sure some of the complaints his office receives were being covered by other entities. But it became clear that wasn't the case, he said.

To address the steady flow of similar complaints, including pay-day lending issues, mortgage and housing problems and other consumer scams, Goddard created the Attorney General's Military and Veterans Advisory Council.

The council's first meeting included representatives from veterans groups and the military and resulted in an "explosion of additional ideas," Goddard said, adding that his office had been unaware of a problem with questionable charitable solicitations.

The problem occurs when charities solicit money from the general public on the premise of supporting troops and veterans. Some are legitimate and put the money to good use. Others, however, flirt with breaking the law because very little of the funds collected are used for the stated purpose.

"Although we've been working in that area, we were not aware how much of that directly applies to veterans and [servicemembers]," he said. "Something we're doing through our Military and Veterans Council is to make sure that we get the word out about those charities that really aren't producing much benefit for the troops.

The council also is ready to tackle the problem of foreclosure rescue schemes targeting servicemembers and veterans who find themselves facing foreclosure. The "rescuers" often grab the title to the house rather than actually fulfilling their promise to help to save it, Goddard said.

Payday loans, something regulated by both the federal and Arizona governments, are another problem the council is looking into. The loans typically carry exorbitant interest rates and can land military families or veterans in debt quickly.

"What we found is veterans are still vulnerable, [as are] families," Goddard said."They're really scurrilous schemes…and they seem to particularly target the military and the areas around bases," he added.

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