By Buddy Blouin

Junk mail used to be almost fun. There were promises of winning contests you never entered, trashy magazines, and some of the most ridiculous marketing schemes ever contrived. These days, they can be much more sinister and fall under the guise of scam mail, in which case much more is at stake than a terrible subscription you never really needed. Smartwatch scams are seemingly targeting service members these days and if you receive a free smartwatch, the best thing you can do is throw it away. Here’s how to stay protected, what’s at risk, and how to save on such devices.

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Smartwatch Scams Are Becoming a Problem for the U.S. Military

The Department of the Army's Criminal Investigation Division (CID) is warning against using unsolicited smartwatches received by mail. There are smartwatch scams that appear to be targeting service members of the U.S. military and the consequences could be bigger than you think.

CID hasn’t confirmed how many people or branches have been affected by potential smartwatch scams, the alert sent out was for the entire U.S. military. These free smartwatches are automatically connecting to WiFi networks and smartphones showcasing major red flags.

Any number of ne'er-do-wells could be behind the scam mail. This could mean phishing attempts from hackers, an attempt to infiltrate government networks from enemy states, or even terrorists looking to gain information.

On the lighter side, there is the possibility that it’s simply what’s known as brushing. This is when counterfeit products are sent by a company in an attempt to get positive online reviews. But the risk to your own personal data and sensitive information of the U.S. government is far too much to chance for a freebie.

Making things even more confusing, the potential smartwatch scams are happening as more wearable tech is being tossed around as a way to improve the U.S. military and the lives of those who serve.

Stemming from a pandemic-era program from the Defense Innovation Unit known as the Rapid Assessment of Threat Exposure (RATE), there are other programs and initiatives that are being proposed to enhance our military.

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National Security, Phishing, and a Range of Other Threats

Remember how all of these devices, apps, and the Internet as a whole were supposed to make everything great? We may have a lot to be thankful for, but it doesn’t mean there aren’t some serious drawbacks when it comes to privacy.

In an ideal world, even if a marketing gimmick, service members grabbing a free smartwatch from the mail seems like a great idea. But if something is too good to be true then it probably is, which is why it’s important to exercise caution.

The fact that these devices have been automatically connecting to other devices and WiFi networks is troubling on several levels. On personal levels, this could be a great way for thieves, terrorists, or any sort of criminal to steal your personal banking information and take off with your hard-earned money.

On the other hand, with a particular focus on those serving in the military, smartwatch scams can have much more sinister implications. Any number of things could happen ranging from killware to stealing government secrets to disabling military systems and more.

Not only is this an obvious threat to the public and American Armed Forces, but if you’re wearing such a device and found to have caused the leak, even if you are innocent, the hassle that you’ll be in fighting that court battle will likely be unpleasant, to put things extremely lightly.

There are 30,000 websites hacked each day across the globe and considering a large majority of the top websites on the Internet come from America, this is a serious problem for companies, the government, and everyday Americans.

Overall, as tempting as a free smartwatch might seem, avoid ransomware attacks, losing your personal data, or causing a massive leak from the government or military by simply throwing them out.

Avoid Smartwatch Scams With Great Military Discounts

A free smartwatch is great but the second best thing you can do is at least save on one when you purchase a device. Smartwatch scams for military members are on the rise, but there are several stores offering military discounts for such devices that can be found on ID.me including Brookstone, i-Blason, and SUPCASE.

Alternatively, those looking to avoid smartwatch scams but save money on devices can also do so on GovX through military discounts for top brands such as Garmin and Citizen Watch. Both portals are reliable, safe options with legit deals at only a fraction of the price for those who have served our nation.

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