Scams Targeting Veterans
AARP and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service have launched Operation Protect Veterans to help raise awareness of common scams targeting veterans. Here are some of the scams to watch out for.
To learn more download the Watchdog Alert Handbook or call the AARP Fraud Watch Network Helpline at 1-877-908-3360.
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Benefits buyout scam: Scammers offer an upfront payment of cash in exchange for a veteran's future disability or pension payments. These buyouts are typically a fraction of the value of the benefit.
Investment/pension scam: Unscrupulous investment advisers claim the veteran may be able to claim additional government benefits by overhauling their investment holdings. 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."
Veterans Choice Program scam: Scammers have 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. Veterans call the fake number and a message prompts them to leave their credit card information in return for a rebate. They debit your account, and the vet gets nothing in return. Make sure to dial the correct number for the VCP: 866-606-8198.
Charging for records: A scammer attempts to charge for access to a veteran's military records or government forms. Never pay for your records: all information is free through your local VA.
Identity Theft Scams
VA phishing: Scammers call veterans claiming they work for the VA and ask for personal information to update their records. If you get an unsolicited call from the VA, hang up.
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.
Other Common Scams Targeting Veterans
GI Bill education marketing scam: Veterans seeking to take advantage of the GI Bill for college courses may be targets of deceptive marketing tactics that provide false information and encourage them to attend expensive for-profit educational institutions. The VA offers a comparison tool to help you locate a school and determine your benefits. Visit www.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. Often, the products aren't discounted at all, or they don't actually exist. Check out offers carefully, and never wire money to someone you don't know.
Rental scam: A scammer posts a fake rental property on a classified ad website offering discounts for active duty military and veterans. You just need to wire transfer a security deposit to the landlord. Only there is no rental property and you just lost your security deposit.
Learn more about how scammers target military veterans by reading AARP's report Under Fire: Military Veterans and Consumer Fraud.
If you're a veteran who's been contacted by a scammer or know someone else who has been, share your story at email@example.com or 1-855-800-9023.