Scam Claiming Red Cross Connection Targets Military Families

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, June 20, 2007 - The Federal Trade Commission is warning consumers about an identity-theft scam targeting families of military members.

A caller, claiming to work for the Red Cross, notifies an individual that their family member has been injured while on duty. To get immediate aid to the injured servicemember, the caller says, paperwork must be completed, and personal information must be verified.

The FTC, the nation's consumer protection agency, says this scheme is a variation of "phishing" - a technique identity thieves use to get personal or financial information from unwary consumers. The identity thief claims to represent a trusted source - a bank, a government agency, or in this case, the American Red Cross - to get someone to divulge their personal information.

American Red Cross representatives typically do not contact military members or dependents directly and almost always go through a commander or first sergeant. Officials urge military family members not to give out any personal information over the phone if contacted by unknown individuals, including confirmation that their spouse is deployed.

Red Cross representatives contact military members or dependents directly only in response to an emergency message initiated by a family member. The Red Cross does not report any type of casualty information to family members; the Defense Department will contact families directly about family members' injuries.

(Compiled from Federal Trade Commission and American Red Cross news releases.)

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