Veterans in the Crosshairs of Scammers

While veterans and nonveterans alike are targeted by scammers, an AARP study found that veterans are twice as likely as nonveterans to lose money to fraud schemes. And nearly 80% of veterans reported being targeted by scams related to their service, such as fundraising appeals from fake military charities or being told of “little known” government programs that could mean cash for veterans. As we honor those who have served our country this Veterans Day, know that scammers go to great lengths to target their money, their benefits and their commitment to current and former soldiers.
How It WorksTargeting veterans can take many forms. These include:•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.•The Update-Your-Military-File Scam: A caller claims to be from the Department of Veterans Affairs and asks to “update” their information, but really is hoping to get personal information to steal your credit.•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 or uses most of the money to raise more funds and pay their own salaries.•Employment Scams: Con artists post bogus job offers to recruit veterans on various online job boards. The scammer may use or sell the 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, be mindful that scammers see you as a hot prospect. You have the power to protect yourself by knowing this and engaging your inner skeptic when considering special offers or requests for personally identifiable or otherwise sensitive information.•The Veterans Affairs will never call you, e-mail or text you to request money.
What You Should Do
•If you get an unexpected call from the VA, hang up and call the VA back at a verified phone number, and ask if the VA is trying to reach you.•Check out charities at or before giving any money. Make donations directly to the veterans organizations you know.•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.
 Reprinted from AARP Fraud Network