Possible Scam Appears To Target Military Families

September 18, 2008

When Soldiers are deployed to combat zones or on unaccompanied tours, their spouses and family members are left responsible for the day to day operation of things on the home front. For homeowners, that can include being responsible for home repairs, home improvement, car repairs, etc. Many of the spouses left at home are women who may not know a whole lot about these types of things. Unfortunately, some places are disreputable and tend to take advantage of that, sometimes to the point of causing worse damage, charging exorbitant rates for repairs or even charging for work that wasn’t even performed. This kind of stuff pisses me off, so I try to make our readers aware of them, every chance I get.

The latest in these possible scams is taking advantage of the Federal Citizen Information Center’s credibility in an attempt to “lure” potential victims in. One soldier recently received a letter/advertisement from the “Home Information Center” which offered a home improvement loan and provided a link to the FCIC’s website, possibly in an attempt to make potential victims believe that the Center endorsed their products. Upon getting this mailing, the Soldier immediately notified the Federal Citizen Information Center to make them aware. The “Home Information Center” mailing linked to post office boxes located in Dallas, Texas and Owasso, Oklahoma.

“The thing that immediately sends up a red flag is the fact that (the advertisement) says these loans are approved by the US Congress,” said Mary Levy, director of consumer education and outreach in FCIC’s Office of Citizen Services. “Congress would absolutely never approve any particular home improvement loan.”1

Levy went on to say that the FCIC has no affiliation with “Home Information Center.” According to Levy, home improvement services are not regulated by the Federal Government, but instead by state and local authorities.

It’s unfortunate that some people and companies take advantage of the fact that, especially in today’s up-tempo environment of the military, will take advantage of the fact and attempt to take advantage of military members and their family. As things like this occur, it’s my hope that military members and their families will contact the authorities, so that they can find out who these people are and prosecute them.

“Military families can become targets of scams, especially when the soldier is deployed thousands of miles away and the family is here,” Levy said. “That’s why it’s so important that they have the information they need to protect themselves.”2

According to Ms. Levy, the Federal Citizen Information Center offers tips for consumers who seek the services of a contractor to make home improvements. They also offer warnings to consumers of red flags to watch for that might indicate a fraudulent operator. In addition, they publish The Consumer Action Handbook, that is published annually. If you feel that you’ve received this type of mail, feel that one of the unscrupulous companies has scammed you, please, visit the Federal Citizen Information Center’s website to report it as well as peruse the wealth of information on the site, which covers a wide range of consumer protection related topics.

  1. http://www.defenselink.mil/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=51206 []
  2. http://www.defenselink.mil/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=51206 []


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