06/07/07 — Red Cross warns military families about calls

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Red Cross warns military families about calls

By Becky Barclay
Published in News on June 7, 2007 1:45 PM

The American Red Cross is warning military families about an identity theft scam that specifically targets them.

According to the Red Cross national headquarters, someone is calling military families claiming to be a Red Cross official and asking for personal information.

The caller is a young-sounding person who says that the spouse's military husband was hurt while on duty in Iraq and was taken to a hospital in Germany. The caller does not use the military member's name.

The caller further states that treatment can't be started until paperwork is done and to complete the paperwork, the spouse needs to verify her husband's Social Security number and date of birth.

The scam has already been attempted on a Marine wife at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point in Havelock, Red Cross officials said, but she caught on to the scam and didn't give the caller any information.

Teresa Williams, disaster services chairman with the Wayne County Red Cross, said the Red Cross does not report any type of casualty or injury information to family members. It also does not contact military members and dependents directly. Instead it almost always goes through a commander or first sergeant.

The only time the Red Cross contacts military members or dependents directly is in response to an emergency message initiated by his or her family, such as an illness or death.

The Red Cross is urging military family members not to give out any personal information over the phone if contacted by someone claiming to be a Red Cross representative and not to confirm that their spouse is deployed.

It's a federal crime -- punishable by up to five years in prison -- for a person to falsely or fraudulently pretend to be a member of or an agent of the American Red Cross to solicit, collect or receive money or material.

Anyone receiving such a call should contact their Family Readiness Group or Military Personnel Flight.