The Better Business Bureau is warning military families about a website set up to take personal information.
The website, called "My Army Benefits" and located at usmilitarybenifit.org, asks for things like email addresses and passwords.
Though there have been no reports in northeast Florida and the website only targets one branch of military service, the BBB says everyone should be on alert.
The site has been taken down, but the BBB said that doesn't means people in the clear. Other websites just like it can pop up just as quickly, and not checking before putting in your information could cost you.
"I hadn't heard anything about it and I'm shocked now," said Marilyn Rowe, whose son served in the Army for four years. "I think it's horrible. Well, I think anybody that would scam anybody is horrible anyway. I don't care what the scam's about, but the military that served for us and everything, you just don't do anything to them guys. They're great."
Scammers set up this website that was designed to collect soldiers' Army Knowledge Online email accounts and passwords. The website was not affiliated or endorsed by the U.S. Army.
The Army's official website is myarmybenefits.us.army.mil. And it's those last three letters of the address you need to take note of.
"Any time you're contacted by the military, it should have the .mil suffix on the website," said Shannon Nelson, of the BBB. "So if it's a .org, .com, that's always a big red flag. So just take your time and really think about it."
Other red flags include unsolicited emails or text messages, spelling, punctuation and grammatical errors, and requests for private information such as email addresses or passwords.
The site also claimed "the U.S. military has granted access to unclaimed and accumulated benefits for active duty soldiers, and that benefits not claimed within the stipulated period will be available for claims after 60 months," according to BBB investigators.
That's false. The BBB said websites like these come and go quickly, but others pop up in their place. That's why they encourage service personnel, family members and veterans to be especially alert.
"Any time you give out your Social Security number, date of birth, driver's license information, which I think this website was asking for, you're subjecting yourself to not only immediate identity theft but down the road," Nelson said.
If you or someone you know has received correspondence from the My Army Benefits website or provided information through it, the BBB offers this advice:
- Do not log in to the website.
- Do not respond to any emails.
- Stop all contact if you have previously responded to any emails.
- Immediately contact your local information assurance office if you accessed the website from a government computer or system.