Military families are not unfamiliar with financial challenges. Having to frequently move can make it difficult for spouses to find steady work, but as the cuts from sequestration begin to take effect, they may face new obstacles. Holly Petraeus, the assistant director of servicemember affairs for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, says furloughed salaries and other cuts may make troops and their loved ones prime targets for unscrupulous lenders, The Associated Press reports. 

Salaries exempt from cuts, but challenges remain
The Department of Defense (DOD) has to make billions of dollars in cuts over the next several months, but the salaries of military personnel can't be touched. Still, sequestration could significantly delay the pay to civilian employees, many of whom are spouses of active duty soldiers. Furloughs could mean that military families have to reach out to lenders, making them susceptible to fraudsters who may be looking to take advantage of people in vulnerable positions. Petraeus recently spoke to attorneys general in the South to warn them of the impending crisis. 

"I think a lot of folks have some concern that if the sequester does hit hard, that they may seek loans and they may seek loans in places where they are going to get really bad rates," Petraeus told the crowd, according to the AP. 

A popular target
Even before sequestration, military families were already a common target for scammers. Petraeus said that because they are young – usually 25 and under – servicemembers are seen by unscrupulous lenders as easy to manipulate into bad deals with high interest rates. The startling trend has not gone unnoticed by the Department of Justice, which recently penned a blog to offer advice to soldiers looking for loans. 

The department said that one of the most important things to remember is to be aware of up-front fees and to always ask what the total price of the loan is. It's also important for servicemembers to be sure of who they're dealing with, the DOJ says. 

Preparation becomes more important
It may become even more crucial for military families to be wary of scammers in the coming months and years as thousands of soldiers return home from Afghanistan. Around 34,000 troops will return to the United States by the end of 2013, with the remaining forces expected home by the end of 2014.