Defending our defenders

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One way America offers a well-deserved thanks to veterans is through educational benefits. The FTC, the Department of Veterans Affairs – and taxpayers, of course – share an interest in ensuring that the people who protect us are protected from misleading practices in the marketing of educational services. But what happens when “Support Our Troops” turns into "Thwart Our Troops" in their effort to get accurate information about educational opportunities? The FTC and VA work together to encourage truth in that marketplace and just signed a Memorandum of Agreement to make that cooperative relationship official.

A key VA priority is ensuring it doesn’t approve veterans’ enrollment at institutions that use misleading tactics. The just-announced Memorandum establishes a procedure for the VA to refer possibly unfair or deceptive advertising or enrollment practices to the FTC. The FTC, in turn, pledges a careful evaluation by knowledgeable staff.

That’s just one way the FTC is protecting the interests of military consumers. Here are steps your company can take to lend a hand:

  • Share free FTC resources.  We have a library of materials written with veterans and current servicemembers in mind. For example, Choosing a College: Questions to Ask and Choosing a Vocational School offer practical tips on separating help from hype when evaluating educational opportunities. Veterans’ Pensions: Protect Your Money from Poachers sheds light on bogus pension “advisors.” Active Duty Alerts outlines steps servicemembers can take to protect themselves from identity theft while they’re deployed. Ask your HR team to share the FTC’s military consumer protection portal with veterans who work for your company. And don’t forget about the unsing heroes of our national defense: military families.
  • Sign up for scam alerts. Think of FTC scam alerts as an early warning system. Just last week, subscribers were among the first to find out about a cell phone scam targeting visitors to VA facilities. By signing up for scam alerts and sounding the alarm to employees, friends, family members, and others in your network, you may be able to prevent the next rip-off.
  • Start planning now for the Month of the Military Consumer. What does your company have planned for July 2016, the Month of the Military Consumer? We’ll be debuting new resources soon, including ideas for how your business can participate.

     

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