NORTH CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson visited the Lowcountry Monday to educate military members about their financial rights.
Wilson brought in Holly Petraeus, the wife of the former CIA director David Petraeus, to teach active duty members how to protect their money.
Petraeus is the leading executive in the Office of Service Members Affairs for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
The federal agency was created in 2010 after the economy took a hit in 2009 and works to make sure consumers are being protected from bad business practice.
"The bureau as an agency has gotten back over $5 billion for U.S. consumers since we opened our doors and over $200 million of that, specifically, for service members," Petraeus said.
Petraeus says scammers often targeting young, active military members and threaten to report debt and pull their security clearance. Petraeus says she's heard cases where victims have actually paid debt that wasn't theirs, to make the problem go away.
"These businesses who are preying on them, trying to get them hooked into really bad deals that can really destroy their credit and ruin their opportunity to serve," Wilson said.
Wilson says his office is learning from Petraeus how to better work with the federal government to protect our service members from getting ripped off by businesses.
"We owe a duty to them to protect them at the state and federal level," Wilson said.
Wilson said that protection starts by making sure military members know their rights. He warns before they make a big purchase like a home or a car, to do their research.
"I think it's important for them to know what protections they have," Petraeus said.
Petraeus says there's also a lot of resources and benefits military members might not be aware of. One she offered as an example is the Service Members Civil Relief Act.
According to Petraeus, if a person enters the military with debt, from a state or federal loan, they can have their interest rate lowered to six percent, while on active duty.
Petraeus says in the next month her agency will also be rolling out a program for newly discharged veterans, to help them create finance plans as new civilians.
In addition to speaking to a crowd of active military members, Wilson and Petraeus spoke at a meeting for the National Association of Attorneys General.