Scammers targeting veterans who apply for VA benefits may focus on a key piece of paperwork as a way to collect payouts with the promise of successful claims decisions, the VA Office of Inspector General said in a recent Fraud Alert.
Disability Benefits Questionnaires (DBQs) collect medical evidence used in VA claim processing. Public DBQs are available on the VA website and can be filled out by a veteran’s health care provider with details on dozens of conditions.
The fraud comes when individuals offer to assist veterans with this process:
- Offering to assist veterans in having the forms filled out, for a fee.
- Charging to fill out any claims related to the DBQ.
- In the case of providers themselves, soliciting a fee to falsify or exaggerate the material on the DBQ, with a goal of a larger benefit claim or higher disability rating.
Veterans who are new to the VA process may be especially vulnerable to these scams. The Fraud Alert lists several signs of foul play, chief among them a scammer’s proposal to collect a percentage of future benefit payments in exchange for working on the claim. Providing false information to the VA, even at the behest of others, can bring significant consequences, as evidenced by a recent New Hampshire case where a 49-year-old man charged with falsely obtaining benefits could face five years in prison and a fine of up to a quarter-million dollars or twice the amount of fraudulent funds received.
Free claims services are available to veterans who need assistance – the VA’s online accreditation search can help veterans find nearby assistance or confirm the credentials of any prospective representative.
MOAA recommends engaging with a veterans service organization (VSO) representative to assist with your claim. VSO representatives do not charge fees to assist with claim preparation; learn more about the process at this link.
[RELATED: 5 Ways to Avoid Social Security Fraud]
Watch for Scams
Check out the following MOAA.org resources to help protect against all types of fraud:
- From our financial and benefits expert: Protect Yourself From These 5 Common Fraud Schemes
- Three-part series: Don’t Be Scammed
- Recorded webinars (available to Premium and Life members): An Overview of Scams and Frauds | Outsmart the Scammers: How to Spot and Avoid Financial Fraud | Protecting Yourself From Cybercrime and Scams
MOAA is also a partner in the Cybercrime Support Network's Military and Veteran Program, which aims to protect servicemembers, veterans, and military families from falling victim to fraud. Find more information on their blog.
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