(WWLP) — Fraud has cost veterans, service members, and their families more than $338 million in the last five years, according to Federal Trade Commission data. The median loss for military scam victims in 2019, $894, was nearly triple that for the population at large.
The goal is often to manipulate or gain access to benefits the government provides to those who served. Scammers come at ex-service members from many angles, employing vet-focused twists on identity theft, phishing, impostor scams, coronavirus scams, and investment and loan deceptions.
Examples include being told they qualify for grants that don’t exist, offering relief funds from the government, employment opportunities, and charities for fellow veterans. Phishers impersonating VA officials will ask for personal information such as social security numbers, saying they need to update the veteran’s records.
Some “dos and don’ts” of veteran fraud:
- Do: Hang up if you get an unsolicited call from the VA
- Do: Confirm that a veterans charity is legitimate before donating
- Do: Beware fake classified ads for rental properties offering discounts for veterans and active-duty military
- Don’t: Give sensitive information such as credit card details or your social security number over the phone or in an email unless you’re sure of whom you’re dealing with
- Don’t :Wire money to someone you don’t know
To protect yourself or veterans, don’t accept calls from organizations you don’t recognize, and never give out personal or financial information to anyone before independently verifying that the person or organization you’re talking to is legitimate.
Sometimes, scammers attempt to charge veterans for access to their service records or for government forms, but veterans can get this material for free from the Department of Veterans Affairs or the national archives. The Veterans Association maintains a searchable database of attorneys, claims agents, and veterans service organizations if you need help.
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