As we honor those who have served our country this Veterans Day, know that some scammers go to great lengths to target their money, their benefits, and their commitment to current and former soldiers.
|How it Works:|
Scams targeting veterans can take many forms:
- 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 actual benefit.
- The ‘Update Your Military File’ Scam: A caller claims to be from the Department of Veterans Affairs and asks to “update” your information, but it’s a ploy to get your personal information to steal your identity.
- Charity Scams: A caller claims to be raising money for disabled veterans or veterans with cancer. But often, the so-called charity is not registered with the government and/or uses most of the money to pay their own “salaries”.
- The ‘Veterans Choice Program’ 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. The person answering the phone tells the caller of a rebate he can get by supplying credit card information. Make sure to always dial the correct number for the VCP: 1-866-606-8198.
|What You Should Know:
- If you are a veteran, you are unfortunately at risk, so be mindful of this reality in your day-to-day transactions.
- The Veterans Administration will never call, e-mail or text you to verify or update your information.
- The old adage always applies – if it’s too good to be true, it usually is!
|What You Should Do:|
- Check out charities at www.give.org or www.charitynavigator.org before giving any money. Make donations directly to the veterans’ organizations you know and trust.
- Only work with VA-accredited representatives when dealing with VA benefits; you can search for them online at the VA Office of General Counsel website.
If you or someone you love has been the victim of one of these scams, alert the SD Division of Consumer Protections by visiting www.consumer.sd.gov or calling 1-800-300-1986. They can investigate your claim and help to warn other South Dakotans to stay vigilant. When it comes to fraud, vigilance is our number one weapon. You have the power to protect yourself and your loved ones from scams. Please share this valuable information with your family and friends!