Scams Targeting Veterans

Veterans deserve many things: Praise. Honor. Security. Respect. Here’s what they don’t deserve: attempts to take advantage of their service. Yet every day, scammers attempt to swindle our veterans of their hard-earned benefits, steal their identity, take their life savings, and worse.


According to an AARP survey, veterans are twice as likely to fall victim to scams as the population at large. Some scammers offer veterans the opportunity to refinance Veterans Affairs (VA) loans at extremely low rates. Others will pose as government agencies in order to access personal information, or offer lump sum payments up front, in exchange for signing over all their future monthly benefit checks. There have even been instances where scammers will create fake charities that target veterans or pretend to be old friends offering “sure thing” investments.


Why are veterans so susceptible to these particular scams?

For starters, veterans implicitly trust fellow members of the military, making them vulnerable to imposters claiming to be veterans themselves. Sometimes, because of their military experiences, veterans also find it more difficult to recognize and combat the emotional manipulation used by scam artists.


That’s why the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and AARP joined forces to create Operation Protect Veterans, and provide valuable information and resources that veterans, their loved ones, and their friends can use to help protect against scammers.

Together, we can fight back and take one small step to repay our veterans for the service they’ve given and the sacrifices they’ve made.


Secret Veteran Benefits Scam

Veterans are told they qualify for “secret” government programs or benefits that offer thousands of dollars – but first, they attempt to collect personal information or a fee.


Fake Charitable Giving Request

Scammers make fraudulent claims about charities benefitting wounded service members.


Benefits Buyout Offer

Scammers take advantage of veterans in need by offering a quick upfront buyout – usually at a fraction of the value – of future disability or pension payments.


Veterans Affairs (VA) Loan Scams

Scammers offer to refinance Veterans Affairs loans at extremely low rates.


Bogus Employment Scam

Scammers post fake job descriptions to collect personal information from a veteran’s job application, or they charge an employment fee.


Fraudulent Records Offer

Scammers try to charge veterans a fee to access military records or government forms—information that is actually available for free through the National Archives (for military records) and VA.gov or local Veterans Affairs offices (for forms).


Veteran Affairs (VA) Phishing Scam

Scammers pose as Veterans Affairs employees to get access to personal information.


Update your File Scam

An imposter claiming to be from a government agency attempts to get a veteran’s personal information to “update their file” so they can maintain their benefits.


Aid and Attendance Scam

Veterans (or their family members) receive an offer to move their assets into a living trust so that they can qualify for financial assisted-living benefits.


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 Veterans Affairs system. Veterans call the fake number and a message prompts them to leave their credit card information in return for a rebate. Make sure to dial the correct number for the VCP: 866-606-8198.


GI Bill Education Marketing Scam

Scammers use deceptive marketing tactics and provide false information to push expensive for-profit educational institutions to veterans seeking to take advantage of the GI Bill for college courses. The Veterans Affairs offers a comparison tool to help you locate a school and determine your benefits. Visitwww.vets.gov/education/gi-bill.


Special Deals for Veterans Scam

Scammers offer special discounts for veterans on a range of products, like loans and car purchases, but the products aren’t discounted at all, or they don’t actually exist.


Rental Scam

A scammer posts a fake rental property on a classified ad website offering discounts for active duty military and veterans. Once they have your security deposit, you find out there is no rental property and your money is gone.


Romance/”Catfishing” Scam

Scammers steal a veteran’s photo and create a phony profile on a dating site to “catfish” singles looking for love.


Most Common Scams Targeting Veterans, by State


Alaska

1. Credit Card 2. Charity 3. VA Loan/Tech Support


Alabama

1. Credit Card 2. Tech Support 3. Charity


Arkansas

1. Credit Card 2. IRS Tax 3. Tech Support


Arizona

1. Credit Card 2. Tech Support 3. IRS Tax


California

1. Credit Card 2. IRS Tax 3. Tech Support


Colorado

1. Credit Card 2. IRS Tax 3. Tech Support


Connecticut

1. Credit Card 2. Tech Support/IRS Tax 3. Charity


DC

1. Credit Card/IRS Tax 2. VA Loan/Tech Support 3. Phishing/Charity


Deleware

1. Credit Card 2. IRS Tax 3. Tech Support


Florida

1. Credit Card 2. IRS Tax 3. Tech Support


Georgia

1. Credit Card 2. IRS Tax 3. Tech Support


Hawaii

1. Credit Card 2. Tech Support 3. IRS Tax


Iowa

1. Credit Card 2. IRS Tax 3. Charity


Idaho

1. Credit Card 2. Tech Support 3. IRS Tax/Charity


Illinois

1. Credit Card 2. IRS Tax 3. Tech Support


Indiana

1. Credit Card 2. Tech Support 3. IRS Tax


Kansas

1. Tech Support 2. Credit Card 3. IRS Tax/Charity


Kentucky

1. IRS Tax 2. Credit Card 3. Charity


Louisiana

1. Credit Card 2. Tech Support 3. IRS Tax


Massachusetts

1. Credit Card 2. Tech Support 3. Charity


Maryland

1. Credit Card 2. Tech Support 3. IRS Tax


Maine

1. Credit Card 2. Tech Support/IRS Tax 3. Charity/Other


Michigan

1. Credit Card 2. IRS Tax 3. Charity


Minnesota

1. Credit Card 2. Tech Support 3. IRS Tax


Missouri

1. Credit Card 2. Tech Support 3. IRS Tax


Mississippi

1. Tech Support 2. Charity/Credit Card 3. IRS Tax


Montana

1. Credit Card 2. Tech Support 3. IRS Tax


North Carolina

1. Credit Card 2. Tech Support 3. IRS Tax


North Dakota

1. Credit Card 2. Tech Support 3. Charity


Nebraska

1. Credit Card 2. Tech Support 3. IRS Tax/Charity


New Hampshire

1. Tech Support 2. Credit Card 3. IRS Tax


New Jersey

1. Credit Card 2. Tech Support 3. IRS Tax


New Mexico

1. Credit Card 2. IRS Tax 3. Tech Support


Nevada

1. Credit Card 2. Tech Support 3. IRS Tax


New York

1. Credit Card 2. IRS Tax 3. Tech Support


Ohio

1. Credit Card 2. Tech Support 3. IRS Tax


Oklahoma

1. Tech Support 2. Credit Card 3. IRS Tax


Oregon

1. Credit Card 2. Tech Support 3. IRS Tax


Pennsylvania

1. Credit Card 2. IRS Tax 3. Tech Support


Puerto Rico

1. Other 2. Phishing/VA Loan 3. Credit Card


Rhode Island

1. Credit Card 2. IRS Tax/Charity 3. Tech Support


South Carolina

1. Credit Card 2. Tech Support 3. IRS Tax


South Dakota

1. Credit Card 2. IRS Tax 3. Tech Support


Tennessee

1. Credit Card 2. IRS Tax 3. Tech Support


Texas

1. Credit Card 2. IRS Tax 3. Tech Support


Utah

1. Credit Card 2. Tech Support 3. Charity


Virginia

1. Credit Card 2. IRS Tax 3. Tech Support


Vermont

1. Tech Support 2. Credit Card/Charity 3. IRS Tax


Washington

1. Credit Card 2. Tech Support 3. IRS Tax


Wisconsin

1. Credit Card 2. Tech Support 3. IRS Tax


West Virginia

1. Credit Card 2. Tech Support 3. IRS Tax


Wyoming

1. Credit Card 2. IRS Tax 3. Charity/Phishing


Unknown

1. Credit Card 2. Tech Support 3. IRS Tax


Here are you should never do in these situations:


· Don’t give personal information


· Don’t give any personal information over the phone. This includes bank account numbers, credit card numbers and your Social Security number.


· Don’t send money


· Don’t send/wire money or gift cards to anyone you don’t know well.


· Don’t feel pressured


· Don’t be pressured to act immediately. If you are dealing with a legitimate outfit, they won’t try to pressure you to act before having a chance to check it out and think about it. If they do, just say “no” and hang up.


These are things you should always do in these situations


· Consult a friend


· Check out the offer with a trusted family member, friend or your local veteran’s affairs office before acting.


· Check the security


· Verify any charity asking for money before sending it. There are several online services veterans can use, such as the Better Business Bureau, Charity Navigator, CharityWatch and GuideStar.


· Do your homework


· Get credible information on how to qualify for veterans’ benefits by contacting your state veterans’ affairs agency. Visit www.nasdva.us, and click on “Links.”


Reference:


United States Postal Inspection Service (2020). Operations Project Veteran. Retrieved from https://www.uspis.gov/veterans/

Image provided from Sommers Schwartz (2020). Military Pensions Scams Stealing Income Unsuspecting Debt Burdened Veterans. Retrieved from https://www.sommerspc.com/blog/2017/09/military-pension-scams-steal-income-unsuspecting-debt-burdened-veterans/

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