As a freelancer, consultant, or independent contractor, you may have worked with clients who are active duty service members.
And while that you may think you hit the client jackpot (a military client means a guaranteed, reliable income stream and a reliable person), you should take a step back and make sure that your potential client is covered under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (“SCRA”).
Servicemembers have a lot of rules and regulations to follow, and they are entitled to safeguards and rights that other clients do not have.
If you worry that your client may not be who they say they are, or if you want to ensure that you are working with legitimate military members, read ahead to find out!
What to do if you suspect your client is a soldier?
Before we go to the main points, let’s first discuss what you should do if you suspect your client is a soldier.
If you are a civilian contractor who regularly interacts with servicemembers or military personnel, it is important to be aware of the prohibitions against disclosing sensitive information.
The Department of Defense takes the unauthorized disclosure of servicemembers’ personal information very seriously, and contractors who are found to have violated the policy can face severe penalties.
If you suspect that your client is a servicemember, you can take a few steps to confirm their status without revealing any sensitive information.
First, you can simply ask them whether they are currently serving in the military or have served in the past. If they confirm, you can ask them what branch of the military they serve in.
You can also ask them whether they have a family member currently serving. If your client is not a servicemember, they will likely be able to answer these questions without hesitation.
However, if they are servicemembers, they may be reluctant to disclose too much information. In this case, it is best to err on the side of caution and avoid asking any questions that could potentially compromise their security.
1. Use public records
When trying to find out if someone is in the military, one of the best places to look is in public records. A simple Google search of the person’s name can often reveal whether they are a military member or not. If they are, their name is likely to appear on lists of military personnel or in news articles about the military.
Another excellent resource for finding out if someone is in the military is the Military Times database. This database includes other personal information on servicemembers killed, wounded, or honored. Searching for a person’s name in this database can give you some insight into whether or not they are currently serving.
2. Check social media
Nowadays, practically everyone is active on at least one social media platform. Therefore, if you want to know if someone has military experience, checking their social media is a great place to start.
For example, finding photos of the person in a military uniform or reading statuses about their time in the Army, Navy, Air Force, or Marines are reasonable indications that the person is a service member.
Not only is this valuable information for military members seeking out others with similar experiences, but it can also be helpful for government officials and law enforcement who might be trying to contact military personnel for various reasons.
So the next time you’re curious about someone’s military experience, don’t forget to take a look at their social media accounts.
3. Contact the military
If you still can’t find the information you’re looking for, your last resort is to contact the military directly. The best way to do this is by calling the military’s switchboard and asking to be connected to the public affairs office for the military branch you are trying to reach.
If you are trying to find out if someone is in the Army, you would call the Army’s switchboard and ask to be connected to the Army’s public affairs office. Once you are connected, explain that you are trying to verify someone’s military service and ask if they can help you.
Remember that the military is not required to release any information about service members without their consent.
What to do if you find out your client is a soldier?
If you find out that your client is a soldier, the best thing to do is to be respectful of their privacy and avoid asking any questions that could potentially compromise their security. If they are comfortable sharing information with you, they will likely do so without prompting. Otherwise, it is best to err on caution and refrain from asking probing questions.
Below are some general tips for interacting with clients who are soldiers:
1. Be respectful of their privacy and only ask questions they are comfortable answering.
- Never ask about their experience in the service; instead, thank them for their service to our country
3. If they share information about their experiences, be a good listener and avoid asking follow-up questions that could make them feel triggered about sensitive details.
- Focus on the task or the job on hand and refrain from asking personal questions unrelated to the task.
If you follow these tips, you should be able to have a respectful and productive relationship with any clients who are soldiers.
How to protect your client and your business from a military scam?
Even the most well-meaning soldiers can unintentionally fall victim to scammers. That’s why it’s essential to be aware of the various scams that target military personnel and take steps to protect them and your business.
Below, we will go over some of the most common scams that target soldiers and what you can do to avoid them.
1. Romance Scams
Every year, thousands of people fall victim to romance scams. And while anyone can be a target, soldiers are often specifically targeted by scammers.
These scammers will create fake profiles to dating sites and social media platforms, posing as someone interested in a romantic relationship. They will then build a relationship with their target before asking for money.
In some cases, the scammer will pose as deployed active duty service members and ask for money to help with various expenses, such as travel costs or medical bills. In other cases, the scammer will claim to be a servicemember looking for a way to retire early and ask for investment money.
No matter the story, the goal is always to get money from their target.
To avoid falling victim to a romance scam, it’s important to be aware of the signs. These include:
-The person is overly complimentary and quick to profess their love for you
-They are always available to talk or chat, even when they should be sleeping or working
-They avoid video chatting or making phone calls
-They ask for you to send money for various reasons
-Their grammar is poor, and their story doesn’t add up
If you suspect you may be talking to a scammer, you can protect yourself by doing a reverse image search of their profile picture. This will allow you to see if multiple people are using the picture or if it’s been taken from another source.
You should also be wary of anyone asking you for money, no matter the reason.
2. DFAS and Phishing Scams
The Department of Defense (DOD) is responsible for managing the pay and benefits for soldiers. The Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS) is the specific branch that handles this.
Scammers will pose as DFAS employees and send phishing emails to access soldiers’ personal information and bank accounts. They may also call soldiers and pretend to be from DFAS to get them to provide personal information or financial account numbers.
These scammers can be challenging to spot, as they often use official-looking logos and branding in their emails and websites. They may also have a lot of accurate information about the DOD and DFAS, making them seem more credible.
To protect yourself from this scam, only open emails from the addresses of a person you recognize and trust. You should also never click on links or attachments from unknown sources. If you’re unsure about an email, you can always contact DFAS directly to confirm its legitimacy.
You can also protect yourself by never giving out your personal information or financial account numbers to anyone you don’t know and trust.
3. Credit Card and Loan Scams
Several different credit card and loan scams target soldiers and military services. In some cases, scammers will pose as financial institutions and offer loans with low-interest rates. They may also provide to consolidate multiple debts into one loan.
While these offers may sound attractive, they are often too good to be true. The scammers will collect soldiers’ personal information and then use it to open new lines of credit in their names. This can ruin their credit score and leave them with thousands of dollars in debt!
Other scammers will claim to be able to help servicemembers get out of debt or improve their credit scores. They may charge a fee for their services, but they often do little to help. But, they may make the financial situation worse.
To avoid these scams, you should be wary of anyone who offers to help you with your finances or consolidate your debts. You should also never give out your personal information, such as your Social Security number or bank account number, to anyone you don’t know and trust.
4. COVID-19 Scams
Recently, there has been a new wave of scams related to the Coronavirus pandemic. These scammers often pose as representatives from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) or World Health Organization (WHO). They may also claim to be selling fake vaccines or treatments for COVID-19. These scammers are often from other countries and will target people in the United States.
They may send emails that look like they are from the CDC or WHO and trick you into clicking on a link that will infect your computer with malware. This type of scam is known as phishing.
If you get an email from someone you don’t remember asking you to click on a link, do not click on it. You should also never give out personal information, such as your Social Security number or bank account information, to someone you don’t know.
If you are contacted by someone who claims to be from the CDC or WHO, hang up and call the CDC or the WHO to verify that the person is actually from those organizations.
Don’t assume that someone is who they say they are just because they have an email address or website that looks legitimate. Always conduct your own research and get advice from people you trust before giving anyone your personal information or money.
5. Payday Loans Scam
Payday loans are short-term loans that are typically due on your next payday. They can be difficult to repay, as the interest rates are often very high. Soldiers will take out payday loans and then have trouble repaying them. The lenders may then threaten to sue the soldiers or have their wages garnished.
Before taking out a payday loan, you should always consider other options. You may be able to get an advance on your paycheck from your employer or take out a personal loan from a friend or family member.
These options will often have lower interest rates and be easier to repay. If you’re worried about making ends meet, many resources are available to help you. Your local country club or community center may offer financial counseling services.
You can also consult a financial advisor or visit your state’s consumer protection website for more information. Whatever you do, don’t give up hope. With a little planning and effort, you can get back on track and start building a bright future for yourself and your family.
So, How to Check if Your Client Is a Soldier?
The internet can be a fallen victim to many things- one of them being finding accurate information. This is especially true when it comes to military status verifications.
With so many active-duty soldiers and veterans, it can be difficult to know who is who. That’s where we come in.
Check out our Servicemembers Civil Relief Act Centralized Verification Service!
We provide accurate military status verifications quickly (usually within 24 hours) and for a reasonable fee, saving you precious time. And time is money.
Further, you don’t even need to provide us with the person’s Social Security number. While that would be the fastest way to get verification, we can do it through other means.
We are here to help. We have a wide range of services related to military status verification, so you can be sure you’re getting the best course of action for your particular situation.