WASHINGTON – The Defense Department has joined more than 35 other federal and state government agencies and nonprofit organizations to highlight free consumer protection resources for military members, the assistant director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau said July 16.
Holly Petraeus noted in a blog post that July 16 was Military Consumer Protection Day and that efforts are underway to assist in protecting service members.
“This year,” she wrote, “we’re joining more than 35 other federal and state government and nonprofit organizations – including the Department of Defense, the Federal Trade Commission, Military Saves and the Better Business Bureau – to observe [the day] and highlight free consumer protection resources for military members.”
The organizations and resources can help you protect and grow your hard-earned military pay or veterans’ benefits,” she said.
“In a perfect world, managing your money would be simple and easy, right?” Petraeus asked. “But in reality, managing your money is an ongoing process that takes time, effort and vigilance. Learning how can put you on a course to financial well-being.”
But even the most financially savvy consumer can make an ill-advised choice or fall victim to a scam, she wrote, which is when it’s important to know where to find help.
In 2013, Petraeus wrote, the CFPB and the Federal Trade Commission, combined, received more than 81,000 complaints from military members.
“While these complaints ranged from identity theft to student loan debt to veteran-targeted pension scams,” she wrote, “the most important common factor in all the complaints was that the member of the military community who submitted the complaint had taken the time to seek help on a pressing consumer issue from a trusted source.”
Petraeus urged military consumers to take a minute to ask themselves where they would turn for help regarding consumer or financial problems they are unable to solve on their own.
“A better-informed resource could be us, our [Military Consumer Protection Day] partners, a military personal financial manager, an attorney general’s office or one of many other state and local organizations that specialize in helping protect service members, veterans and military families from financial harm,” she wrote.
“Remember that when it comes to consumer issues,” she added, “information is your first defense.”
Additional information, tools and resources that can help safeguard against consumer fraud, illegal business practices and bad financial deals are available on the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s website, Petraeus wrote.
“If you have an issue with a consumer financial product or service that you haven’t been able to work out yourself – complain,” she added, “we are here to help. One day a year may be set aside for [Military Consumer Protection Day], but protecting your financial well-being should be something you think about every day.”