Scam Alert: How Fraudsters are Specifically Targeting Veterans

Scam Alert: How Fraudsters are Specifically Targeting Veterans
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Military service provides its share of lifelong benefits, financial and otherwise, but it won't protect veterans from scammers.

If anything, it might encourage them.

Veterans are twice as likely to fall prey to a scam than the civilian population, according to a recent AARP survey, with 16 percent of them having lost money to scammers in 2017 (compared with 8 percent of non-military personnel). Operation Protect Veterans, an information campaign from the U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) and AARP, is designed to help stop such scams before they start.

A recent USPIS news release outlined the top five scams that specifically target veterans. As with most financial fraud, these techniques are designed to resemble legitimate programs, only to turn into nightmares for the veterans who get sucked in. Scammers will:

  • Offer "secret" veteran-only benefits worth thousands of dollars ... but first ask for personal information or a fee.
  • Create websites or fake email accounts for fake charities with a pro-veteran message.
  • Offer to buy out future disability or pension payments. Even if the offer is genuine, it's usually far under the true value of the benefit in question and serves to take advantage of veterans facing hard financial times.
  • Bombard new homeowners with VA loan refinancing options that appear to be from VA-linked lenders.
  • Post veteran-only job announcements designed to scam veterans out of an "application fee" or into providing personal information.

The release also offered tips to avoid these scams and others. Chief among them: Always verify any request that involves personal information, either with an online charity monitoring service (GuideStar, for example) or a local VA office.

Other advice: Don't give out personal identification over the phone, don't fall for any requests that require you to act before verifying the email or program, and report any scams to the police or other relevant agencies.