THE SCAM: Your soldier is hurting.
HOW IT WORKS: People with loved ones serving in the U.S. military worry about receiving the phone call that says their soldier is hurt and needs help. Scammers are exploiting the whirlwind of emotions that relatives go through when they receive this call. In this scheme, the relatives get phone calls from someone who claims to be from the Red Cross and says their loved one was hurt in Iraq and has been transferred to a hospital in Germany. To finish paperwork and begin treatment, the caller says, he or she needs the soldier's Social Security number and birthdate. But American Red Cross officials don't typically contact family members directly, and don't ask for personal information either.
WHAT'S AT STAKE: A soldier's identity
HOW TO BEAT IT: The initial shock and worry that accompany such a phone call could be the toughest barrier to thinking clearly. Ask yourself why the American Red Cross would call you in the United States when such information is usually available directly from the military. Check with the soldiers directly if worried about them.
Contact Bee staff writer Ben van der Meer at firstname.lastname@example.org or 578-2331.