Scams against veterans

June 4, 2011 at 1:04 a.m.

By Alan Bligh

We recently honored our veterans this past Memorial Day, but BBB warns veterans and their families that scammers are victimizing veterans, especially those who are frail and elderly. Veterans' scams can take many forms. Among them:

Firms that target veterans and charge them for products and services they can receive free or at lower cost elsewhere, such as military records and forms.

Scammers who contact veterans saying that they need to update their credit card information or other records with the Veterans Administration.

Bogus charities with names that reference the Armed Forces and seek donations.

Fraudsters who try to convince veterans to transfer their investments into various financial investment schemes.

I think we can all agree that these schemers are engaged in despicable activities. We all have an obligation to watch after our veterans. If you run across anything that looks suspicious please give us a call.

Snake oil

These days, the term "snake oil" is synonymous with quackery. A "snake oil salesman" promises you the world, takes your money, and is long gone by the time you realize the product is completely worthless. But get this: The original snake oil actually worked. In the 1860s, Chinese laborers immigrated to the United States to work on the Transcontinental Railroad. At night, they would rub their sore, tired muscles with ointment made from Chinese water snake, an ancient Chinese remedy. So why does snake oil have such a bad rap? Well, hucksters that sold patent or medicine caught wind of the miraculous muscle-soothing powers of snake oil. Naturally, they decided to sell their own versions of snake oil - but it was just much easier to forgo using actual snakes, which were difficult to obtain.

Filing a complaint

Have you ever wondered what happens when you file a complaint with BBB? Well, the answer to this question, along with links to local news stories, scams, tips on how to protect your money and more are now posted on our new BBB Blog at Stay tuned as we will continue to update it with answers to the most common questions about BBB, information on marketplace trends and other consumer protection-related stories as they happen. We encourage you to subscribe to the blog today and to comment frequently! This is a great source for folks hunting for that special extra item for a newsletter, etc.

Quick Response code

What comes from Japan and looks like some kind of an eye test? It's a QR code. That's short for Quick Response. A QR code can be read quickly by your cell phone. Think of a barcode that can store much more data than you can imagine. Scan the code with your smart phone to read the data. A company can use a QR to show you such information as directions to their business, direct you to their BBB Report, or show you a URL that you can click to receive a coupon. The QR can be placed on shirts, hats, mugs, ties or other products. You can even put a QR on your business card with a link in the QR that takes the recipient directly to your website. Or add a QR that contains your contact information making it easy to add that info to a cell phone.

Alan Bligh is the executive director of the Better Business Bureau in Corpus Christi. Contact him by email at



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