Online Military Shopping Scams Still Popular

Online scams are often directed at members of our military, their families, and our veterans. As the popularity of online shopping continues to grow, so does the risk of shopping-related scams. According to the BBB Risk Index, these schemes are rated the riskiest to these populations, followed by employment scams targeting military spouses and veterans. July is military consumer month, so BBB is sharing some tips on recognizing and avoiding online shopping scams.

According to the 2021 Online Shopping Scam Report, more than 10% of online purchase scams reported to BBB Scam Tracker came from the military community. Active-duty military (78.3%) and military spouses (75.2%) were more likely to report losing money to these scam types than non-military consumers (75%). More concerning is that the median dollar loss for all military consumers—active duty ($178), military spouses ($119), and veterans ($139)—is higher than non-military consumers ($100). 

The 2021 BBB Scam Tracker Risk Report showed that the number of active-duty military exposed to a scam was nearly identical to the percentage of the general population reporting monetary loss; the susceptibility of active-duty military (60.7%) was about 42% higher than that of the overall population. 

The good news is that there are simple steps you can take to help reduce your risk of online fraud: 

Online shopping tips: 

If it looks too good to be true, it probably is.  Don’t shop on price alone. Searching for a low price is the number one reason people reported losing money. Many scammers offer deals that seem too good to pass up; however, they may end up losing money to a counterfeit product or may not even get the product at all.  

Beware of phony sellers.  Double-check to make sure the website of the seller is safe. Check the URL for errors/misspellings, and never click on a link that looks suspicious. Does the website have accessible contact information? Read online reviews about the company or website and see what others say.  

Don’t pay with gift cards! If someone asks you to pay for something with a gift card, like a Google Play or iTunes card, it’s a scam. No real business or government agency will ever insist you pay them with a gift card. Anyone who demands to be paid with a gift card is a scammer.  

Know the seller. If the seller or website seems sketchy, it is wise to avoid it. Instead, buy directly from the source (brand, manufacturer, team, etc.) or through an established shop or authorized reseller.  

Protect yourself. When buying or selling on a site that offers protection to buyers and sellers, take advantage of them. If a buyer or seller tries to persuade you to go outside the site’s usual process or payment methods, that’s a big red flag. 

If you have been targeted by an online scam or wish you learn about common scams in your community, check out the BBB’s Scam Tracker to file a report or read about others’ experiences.  

Visit BBB’s online shopping hub and the military and veteran consumer hub for more tips. 

For more information

To learn more about BBB’s Military and Veterans Initiative, visit

Go to to report a scam and learn more about other risky scams in our scam news feed. For more information or further inquiries, contact the Wisconsin BBB at, 414-847-6000 or 1-800-273-1002. Consumers also can find more information about how to protect themselves from scams by following the Wisconsin BBB on FacebookTwitterInstagram and YouTube.