State working to protect service members from getting scammed - WSMV Channel 4

State working to protect service members from getting scammed

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Men and women in uniform make great sacrifices for their country, and now the state of Tennessee is taking extra steps to protect them from fraud here at home.

Shady businesses can prey on soldiers who often don't know how to fight back or don't have the time.

The state attorney general's office has issued a new consumer guide with information on how service members can fight unfair business practices.

In one recent case, more than 4,000 Fort Campbell soldiers were overcharged for computers that were sold at a mall kiosk.

In 2010, Kerry Luckey's husband, Specialist John Luckey, spent $4,000 for a laptop from a company called MilitaryZone, Incorporated.

"It was probably four times as much I would think than it was worth," Kerry Luckey told Channel 4.

The company's website boasted that service members could receive "no money-down deals" with "creative financing."

The Tennessee Attorney General's Office took the company to court for offers that proved too good to be true. There were inflated prices and hidden fees.

"Often time, the consumers were told the finance rate was zero, when in some cases, it was upwards of 19 percent," said Jared Plunk, an assistant attorney general.

The state AG's office said MilitaryZone's and its partner, Rome Finance, even spent months hounding the family of a soldier who had been killed and dragged through the streets of Iraq.

"Rome Finance continued to try to collect from his family, who was obviously grieving the loss of their son," Plunk said.

The government has since recovered more than $2 million for the soldiers who were victims of MilitaryZone and its related companies, but they're interested in protecting service members on the front end.

July 15 is the second annual "Military Consumer Protection Day" and the state is rolling out a new comprehensive guidebook. It contains chapters on things like rules debt collectors must follow and how to file a complaint against an auto dealer.

The book is available for everyone to download for free by clicking on this link.

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