A Service to Soldiers: Beware of Scams!

Our country has thousands of honorable, selfless men and women who serve proudly defending the rights and freedoms we Americans enjoy (and sometimes even take for granted).  Many of these service personnel are stationed or on tours of duty overseas.  They deserve the piece of mind to know their family and financial interests stateside are safe and sound.  North Carolina has a significant number of military personnel as the state has installations/bases for:  the Marines (Cherry Point in Craven County, New River and Camp Lejeune in Onslow County), Army soldiers (Fort Bragg in Cumberland, Harnett, Hoke, and Moore Counties plus Pope Field and Simmons Army Air Field), Coast Guard personnel (Elizabeth City), the U.S. Navy (Cherry Point), and the Air Force (Seymour Johnson in Wayne County).

Too often unscrupulous businesses and salespersons take advantage of servicemembers by putting them in high interest car loans and other problematic finance contracts, selling them clunker vehicles, failing to disclose significant vehicle damage, misrepresenting or even omitting important facts inducing entry into a contract, and committing other unethical and illegal acts.  Some businesses in towns with significant military populations target younger members of the military and lock them into bad deals.  Often military personnel have to wind up their affairs on short notice and feel forced into making detrimental decisions regarding important legal matters before deploying to serve their country. 

I was born in New Bern, North Carolina—which is located between Camp Lejeune and Cherry Point MCAS—as the son of a U.S. Army veteran and am well aware of the importance of the mission of the United States military.  These men and women and their families do not need undue distractions and burdens during deployment or commitment.  It disappoints me to read and hear of stories of military personnel who are victims of scams and other illegal business acts and practices. 

Any member of the military preparing to sign a lease agreement or purchase a good/item which will require payments, or otherwise enter into a consumer transaction is best advised to do his or her homework.   The Servicemembers’ Civil Relief Act provides certain valuable rights which could protect a man or woman in uniform.  The North Carolina Attorney General’s office notes some of the more prevalent scams awaiting military personnel and their families.  The Better Business Bureau has a webpage of consumer alerts for members of the military.  There are also other consumer resources available for military personnel.  The O’Neal Law Office Free Information Center has resources designed to educate consumers and prevent them from being victimized.

One of the more frustrating things for a serviceperson who discovers they have been taken advantage of is the lack of time to attend to the matter and seek justice.  You may have valuable rights and it is usually beneficial to seek legal help to determine your best steps.  If you are a member of the United States military and believe you have been the victim of consumer fraud, illegal or unfair practices, contact Attorney John O’Neal for a free initial consultation.  And thank you immensely for your service to our country!



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