July 16, 2014 is the second annual Military Consumer Protection Day. Your BBB is part of this initiative along with more than 35 other federal and state government, and non-profit organizations providing several programs benefiting military families. According to the Military Consumer website, “Military Consumer Protection Day (MCPD) is a joint initiative to empower active duty and retired service members, military families, veterans and civilians in the military community.” To help celebrate this day, the Department of Defense (DOD), the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) are hosting a Twitter chat today at 2:00 p.m. EST. The chat will focus on identity theft and credit-related issues at #MCPD2014.
Military Consumer Protection Day came about in 2013, when the CFPB and the FTC together received more than 81,000 complaints from military consumers. The complaints involved identity theft, student loan debt, veteran-targeted pension scams, and more.
What is the BBB’s role in this initiative? Actually, the BBB Military Line® started in 2004 as a program of the BBB Institute for Marketplace Trust and has provided free resources to military communities in the areas of financial literacy and consumer protection ever since. The BBB Military Line publishes a free monthly e-newsletter, “Trusted Scout,” which keeps readers informed on how to avoid scams targeting the military community. To sign up for the newsletter and to read archived copies, go to www.bbb.org/council/programs-services/bbb-military-line/bbb-military-line-e-newsletter/.
BBB Military Line® focuses on five main areas: Education, Outreach, Information, Data Collection, and Complaint and Dispute Resolution. It provides financial literacy and consumer protection resources to members of each branch of service, Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, and Coast Guard, including Reservists and National Guard, retirees, and their family members. The free resources offered include MilitaryandMoneyApp (provided through a McGraw Hill/BBB partnership); “Personal Finance for Military Families“ (a Kiplinger/BBB creative publication); Operation Homefront, a BBB Accredited Charity, which provides emergency financial and other assistance to the families of our service members and wounded warriors; “A Salute to Smart Investing”; “Veterans’ Handbook”; “Get More Money Now” (a BBB & FINRA publication); Financial Readiness Equals Mission Readiness DVDs (produced by BBB Military Line®).
Other Military Consumer Protection Day partners include the Attorneys General of 22 states. The Indiana Attorney General has a webpage devoted to protecting military servicemembers, the Illinois Attorney General has a Military & Veterans Rights webpage, and the Kentucky Attorney General’s Office of Consumer Protection works to protect Kentucky consumers from “unfair, false, misleading or deceptive acts or practice in trade or commerce” and has information about many different scams.
Holly Petraeus, head of the Military Office of the CFPB, said at the first Military Consumer Protection Day in 2013, the purpose of the day is “to highlight free consumer protection resources for military members. These resources can help service members, military families, and veterans guard themselves against consumer fraud and make better-informed decisions when managing and spending their money.”
For more information you can trust, visit bbb.org/evansville.