Stay Alert: Fraudsters Target Veterans, Active-Duty Service Members, and Their FamiliesReading Time: 2 Minutes
Last Updated: November 14, 2023
Did you know that fraudsters target veterans, active-duty service members, and their families at a higher rate than they do civilians? They are also 40% more likely than their civilian counterparts to lose money to scams and schemes.
Why? Fraudsters follow the money. Service members receive a steady paycheck, and many veterans receive regular benefit payments.
Fraudsters frequently use military jargon and specific government guidelines to craft an effective pitch to extort money. AARP reports that the most common scams are:
An unethical adviser may promise to help veterans increase their retirement savings or receive extra benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Be wary of anyone offering to move your assets to qualify for a VA pension. Check the VA’s searchable database or call 855-578-5492 to determine if an attorney or financial professional is VA-accredited and has the necessary training to complete and submit claims.
A fraudster may offer a payment in exchange for military disability or pension payments. The one-time payment never materializes or is significantly lower than the value of the benefit. To avoid falling victim to this scam, make sure to apply directly – free of charge – to the VA if you think you are eligible for the agency’s Aid and Attendance benefits.
A fraudster may try to charge you for using or updating Direct Deposit Form 214 – even though this form is free. The VA will never ask for personal information by phone, text, or email. If you are contacted by someone who claims to be from the VA and asks for personal information, such as your Social Security number, do not respond and hang up. Call the agency directly at 1-800-MyVA411 (800-698-2411).
Fake Veterans’ Charities
A fraudster may pretend to represent a fake veterans’ charity or cause that claims to raise money for struggling veterans and military families. But the fraudster pockets the money, taking donations away from legitimate charities that serve veterans. Research an organization before donating. Check out CharityWatch.org or CharityNavigator.org.
‘Special’ Military Deals
There are legitimate discounts honoring the contributions of service members and veterans. A fraudster, possibly posing as a soon-to-be-deployed service member, may offer the veteran a special deal on cars, electronics, or other products. They often ask for wired payments, then disappear without providing the goods. Do not send money to someone you do not know or have only met online or over the phone.
Fraudsters know that a veteran’s patriotism can be an open door to their heart and wallet. They approach veterans with appeals to military service brotherhood. Follow the tips above to protect yourself and your family.
Victims of fraud can report suspected fraud, waste, and abuse via the Program Integrity Fraud, Waste, and Abuse Complaint Form, VA Form 10-0500. Scams can also be reported to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), and the Inspector General Hotline at: 1-877-777-4021. Learn more on the AARP Veterans Fraud Center page and the VA’s Fraud page.
Please share this information with the veterans and military members in your life.
Our posting of this blog does not constitute an endorsement or recommendation of any non-Social Security organization, author, or webpages.
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