We honor the men and women who have served this country in our armed forces on Veterans Day. They have protected us, there are ways to protect them from scams that target them specifically.
According to a recent AARP survey, veterans are twice as likely to fall victim to scammers as the population at large.
- "Secret" Veteran Benefits Scam: Veterans are told they qualify for "secret" government programs or benefits that offer thousands of dollars—but first, scammers attempt to collect personal information or a fee.
- Fake Charitable Giving Request: Scammers are running bogus charities that claim to help fellow veterans.
- Benefits Buyout Offer: Veterans in need are being taken advantage of by scammers who are offering a quick, upfront buyout—usually at a fraction of the value—of future disability or pension payments.
- VA Loan Scams: Scammers are offering to refinance VA loans at very low rates.
- Bogus Employment Scam: Scammers are posting fake job descriptions to collect personal information from a veteran’s job application, or they are charging veterans an employment fee.
What can veterans do to protect themselves? Operation Protect Veterans recommends the following:
- Consider blocking Social Security benefits from scammers looking for account details online. Go to www.socialsecurity.gov/blockaccess.
- Check out any offer or solicitation with a trusted family member, friend or your local veteran’s affairs office before acting.
- Verify any charity asking for money before sending it. There are several online services veterans can use, such as Charity Navigator, CharityWatch and GuideStar.
- Don’t give any personal information over the phone. This includes bank account numbers, credit card numbers and Social Security number.
- Never be pressured to act immediately. Just say “no,” and hang up.
- Contact your telephone service provider, and ask them what kind of services they offer to help you block unwanted calls.
- Register your telephone number with the National Do Not Call registry at www.donotcall.gov, and get an answering machine and caller ID display. If you don’t recognize the person leaving a message, don’t pick up the phone!
- Don’t feel ashamed if you think you may have been victimized. Shame is a scammer’s best friend. Report it by contacting your local police or AARP (firstname.lastname@example.org or 877-908-3360).
For more information on scams targeting veterans and how to defend against them, visit www.operationprotectveterans.com.