by Kathy Stokes, AARP Fraud Watch Network
Veterans Day has come and gone for this year, but we want veterans to know that scammers go to great lengths to target their money, their benefits, and their commitment to current and former soldiers.
How It Works:
Targeting veterans can take many forms:
- The Update Your Military File Scam: A caller claims to be from the Department of Veterans Affairs and asks to “update” your information, but really is hoping to get personal information to steal your credit.
- Veterans Choice Program (VCP) Scam: Scammers set up a phone number nearly identical to the number veterans dial to find out if they are eligible to use approved health care providers outside of the VA system. A recorded message or a person answering the phone tells the caller of a rebate he can get by supplying credit card information. Make sure to dial the correct number for the VCP: 1-866-606-8198.
- Charity Scams: A caller claims to be raising money for disabled veterans or veterans with cancer. They play on sympathy to try to evoke an immediate response. But often, the so-called charity is not registered with the government and/or uses most of the money to raise more funds and pay their salaries.
- The Cash for Benefits Scheme: Predatory lenders target veterans in need of money by offering cash in exchange for future disability or pension payments. These buyouts are typically a fraction of the value of the benefit.
- Employment Scams: Con artists post bogus job offers to recruit veterans on various online job boards. The scammer may use or sell your personal information provided in the job application. It’s likely a scam if you have to pay to get the job, you need to supply credit card or banking information, or the ad is for “previously undisclosed” federal government jobs.
What You Should Know:
- If you are a veteran, you are unfortunately a target, so be mindful of this reality in your day-to-day transactions.
- The Veterans Administration will never call you, e-mail or text you to verify or update your information.
- The old adage applies here – if it’s too good to be true, it usually is.
What You Should Do:
- Check out charities at www.charitynavigator.org before giving any money. Make donations directly to the veterans’ organizations you know.
- When it comes to fraud, vigilance is our number one weapon. You have the power to protect yourself and your loved ones from scams.