My Military Space
pay is it
by Gabriel J. Myers
Minot Air Force Base Public Affairs
4/7/2006 - MINOT AIR FORCE BASE,
ND -- With many elaborate scams such as phishing, payday
loans, and identity theft designed to separate people from their
hard earned money, protecting your finances can be a tremendous
If victimized by one of these scams, the results could
potentially be catastrophic to an Airman’s financial health and
take years to repair.
“Criminals are getting smarter; they are starting to use
electronic media and are disguising themselves very well to look
as legitimate as possible in order to gain access to
information,” said Maj. Miles Mathieu, 5th Comptroller Squadron
Phishing is a relatively new term that defines a method of
extracting people’s personal information or a form of criminal
activity using social engineering techniques, characterized by
attempts to fraudulently acquire sensitive information.
An example of phishing is an e-mail appearing to be legitimate
from a bank asking to verify account information or personal
“No legitimate financial organization or credit card company
will ever ask for or solicit you for personal information,” said
Airman could also potentially be targeted by scammers posing as
trusted institutions or Web sites such as Bank of America, Armed
Forces Bank or even MyPay.
The best way to protect oneself from phishing is to safeguard
personal information by deleting phishing e-mails and reporting
it to a client service administrator or immediate supervisor.
Another financial pitfall officials say should be avoided are
Many Airmen get themselves into a financial bind by needing
money quickly because of an emergency, car trouble or family
issues, so they acquire the needed cash through online or onsite
payday loan companies, said J.R. Williamson, FSC community
These companies, in some states, are considered legal but people
should be aware of the dangers these businesses pose and what
the potential cost of using their services could be.
The Center for Responsible Lending conservatively estimates that
predatory payday lending fees (those extracted from borrowers
caught in a debt trap of repeated transactions) costs families
in the U.S. $3.4 billion annually.
People who use payday loan services can pay annual percentage
rates as high as 700 percent of the original loan. Most payday
loans are two-week loans that are paid back on a person’s
payday. If the borrower fails to repay the loans then the
penalties and fees skyrocket and can put the borrower in a
seemingly endless cycle of debt.
In addition to the financial repercussions, Airman can also get
into trouble with the Air Force that can potentially result in
non-judicial punishment and could possibly even threaten an
For Airman there are very useful alternatives for quick cash
that carry little or no interest rates.
Through 5th CPTS, Airman can get partial payments in certain
emergency situations. Airman are also entitled to permanent
change of station and temporary duty travel advances as well as
pay advances up to three months for PCS-related expenses not
specifically covered by other entitlements. In each of these
cases, Airman must work with their supervisors, first sergeants
and commanders so they can get the proper direction and
assistance for their financial needs, said Major Mathieu.
Another resource available for financial assistance and
counseling is the Family Support Center.
The FSC is the on-base agency for assistance through the Air
Force Aid Society. The Air Force Aid Society is the official
charity of the United States Air Force.
“The Air Force Aid Society offers interest free loans for
emergency-type situations,” said Mr. Williamson.
The FSC can also help Airmen establish financial goals, plans
and responsible budgets.
“It’s important for Airman to understand the Air Force is not
out to hurt you, in fact the Air Force established Family
Support programs to help you. We would much prefer that Airmen
identify that they are having a financial problem so we can help
them get through it, rather than their seeking out high interest
loan agencies that will only make the problem worse,” said Mr.
“The Air Force Aid Society won’t pay off bad checks or repay
high interest loans for you, so seeking help before the
situation is out of control is an important key to getting back
on the right financial track. However, our counselors at Family
Support are trained to help you with your financial issues even
when they seem to be out of control. We do this in a variety of
ways, like helping you negotiate with your creditors, by finding
resources in your budget, or perhaps by referring you to a host
of other agencies that may be able to help your situation. Our
focus is on helping you find the means to help yourself,” said
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