May 26, 2011, Milwaukee, Wis.— Memorial Day should be a day when Americans honor veterans that protect our country. Unfortunately, it’s the veterans that may need protection from scammers trying to take advantage of them.
That’s why the Wisconsin Better Business Bureau (BBB) wants to warn consumers about companies that specifically target veterans and charge them for products and services that they can receive elsewhere for free. Lyon Research, in Virginia, is one such company that took advantage of at least one Wisconsin veteran.
When Geoffrey O. of Beaver Dam needed his DD214 form, the condition of discharge form issued by the Department of Defense, he turned to Lyon Research, which he found when searching on the internet. The company’s website said, “If you are looking for your military records or a DD214, click on the following link.”
He clicked on the link, entered his credit card information as instructed and soon received a $90 charge. He said he was promised his information within seven days. To date, two months later, Geoffrey told the BBB “I got nothing.”
He disputed the charge with his Visa card—and did, however, get the information he was originally seeking—for free--through his local Veterans Administration office.
Lyon Research has an “F” rating with the Better Business Bureau of Eastern Virginia, the lowest grade possible. It has failed to respond to 28 complaints filed against it in the last thirty-six months.
Unfortunately, this company isn’t alone. According to the Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Workforce Development-Office of Veterans Services, there are several firms and organizations in Wisconsin that are charging veterans for services, such as employment and paperwork, that can be obtained for free.
“Charging people for something that can get for free elsewhere may be perfectly legal,” said Ran Hoth, Wisconsin BBB president/CEO. “But, it’s certainly unethical – especially when the person they’re cheating is a veteran. We should be thanking veterans, not scamming them!”
This Memorial day, the BBB reminds veterans, military personnel and their families to be wary of purchasing products or services that they can obtain for free. Always check out a company or offer at www.bbb.org before responding.
Other helpful websites for veterans, military personnel and their families are:
The BBB’s Military Line
Since 2004, BBB Military Line has provided free resources to our military communities in the areas of financial literacy and consumer protection through the efforts of 164 BBBs across the U.S.
Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs
Works on behalf of the Wisconsin Veterans Community. Click on “Quick Links” or “Benefits Center” for information on grants, loans, education benefits and employment assistance to name a few.
Office of Veterans Employment Services
Provides information regarding the “Jobs for Veterans Act”, which gives priority to covered veterans and eligible spouses to receive employment, training and placement services.
United Service Organization of Wisconsin
Provides information, referrals and support services to veterans, military personnel and their families. Click on “Programs” or “Events” to find information on free admission at local sporting events, festivals, outings, concerts and information on retail discounts, lodging deals and more.