National Consumer Protection Week
Daniel Farrell, financial readiness specialist, Army Community Service, discusses financial dangers of potential scams with a Fort Sill Soldier. Fort Sill Soldiers and family members can talk to a financial readiness specialist by calling 580-442-4916 for an appointment. (Courtesy photo) (Photo Credit: Monica Wood) VIEW ORIGINAL

FORT SILL, Oklahoma (Feb. 22, 2023) The Federal Trade Commission observes March 5 through 11, as National Consumer Protection Week. Fort Sill’s, Army Community Service observes the week and helps Soldiers and family members throughout the year.

“In the digital age, the onus on consumer protection has intensified as they can easily fall prey to online scams and frauds,” said Catherine Pate, accredited financial counselor, ACS. “National Consumer Protection Week is an opportunity to arm ourselves with information to protect and safeguard our financial well-being.”

Pate said they haven’t seen the latest scam targeting Soldiers at Fort Sill but there is a new twist on a banking imposter scam targeting the military. In this latest con, imposters call servicemembers and pretend to be from or working with DFAS, or Defense Finance and Accounting Service, a DoD agency that handles getting pay to servicemembers. Here’s how the scam plays out:

The caller says the servicemember was (supposedly) underpaid. They demand the servicemember’s name, rank, and confirmation of a myPay payroll deposit. They then demand that the servicemember wire money to them immediately — supposedly to return the incorrect deposit. The caller says this is the only way for DFAS to then deposit the correct amount in their account.

But it’s all lies.

These scammers are committed and conniving: we’ve even heard of at least one case where a servicemember’s credit union flagged and stopped the transfer because it looked suspicious. But when the scammers didn’t get the money, they called back, berated the servicemember for disrespect, and pressured them into overriding the credit union’s flag to complete the transaction.

“This scam shows many of the classic warning signs of an imposter scam,” said Pate. “But these scammers also take advantage of the military’s deference to rank and authority. Servicemembers learn from the get-go to obey a superior’s commands. Scammers know that military personnel — especially those new to the service — are not likely to challenge someone claiming to be a superior. But here are some ways you can fight back against imposters.”

• Know that DFAS — and other government agencies — will not call, email, or text to demand money or personal information. DFAS does not make unsolicited calls about payroll mistakes or debts — and DFAS will never demand payments by phone or mobile payment apps.

• Don’t click on links in unexpected emails or texts. Scammers might send a surprise text or email with a link that includes an official-looking logo (all fake). If you click on the fake link, the scammer could install malware on your phone or computer, which could give them complete access to your device and information. If there’s a problem with your myPay account, DFAS will email you through a DFAS email address but, DFAS myPay does not send live links in its emails to you.

• Contact DFAS at a number or website you know is trustworthy. Don’t trust caller ID. Scammers use technology to fake the number they call from. Never call back phone numbers from your caller ID or voicemails. Let your commanding officer know about the suspicious call.

• Do some research before you react. If you get a call, email, or text and you’re concerned that there’s a real issue with your account, do a little digging. Check on your account: Call DFAS Centralized Customer Support Unit toll free at 1-888-DFAS411 or 1-888-332-7411 or submit your question to Ask myPay Online Customer Service.

• Never pay anyone who tells you to pay with wire transfers, gift cards, or cryptocurrency. Anyone who does is a scammer. Always.

• Check the link in Google before you click on it. Scammers use links that are very close to the actual website, but just a little bit off.

“Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is,” said Pate. “Your best bet to keep from getting scammed is to come to ACS because we will help you at no cost for the help.”

If you suspect you are being scammed or if you want to talk to a financial counselor, call ACS at 580-442-4916 for an appointment.