I never stop being disgusted and enraged by scams targeting seniors. Recently, we heard from a family whose 78-year-old father was being victimized by a scammer. This man was a veteran and had worked hard for his savings over the last six decades. The scammer was convincing this veteran to donate money to support other veterans; unfortunately, the organization he claimed to represent was fake. This man had already lost over $5,000 to this scammer, and the family was worried that he would lose more and reached out to Hurley Elder Care Law to explore options on how they could stop him from giving away any more money.
Veterans may be particularly vulnerable to scams. A 2016 study conducted by AARP showed that veterans make up 33% of all victims of investment fraud (even though veterans make up less than 10% of the U.S. population.
So, what scams should veterans watch out for?
Fake veteran charities scam: Scammers claim to represent an organization that helps other veterans. You can always find out about reputable charities at https://www.charitynavigator.org
Pension scam: Unscrupulous investment advisers claim they can help veterans secure VA pensions for free. These investment advisors are actually selling investment products to the veterans (or their families) for a commission. And the financial products may or may not be good for the veterans. You can get credible information from a certified elder law attorney or the Georgia Department of Veteran Services at https://veterans.georgia.gov/
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.
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 or at https://vetrecs.archives.gov/VeteranRequest/home.html.
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.
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.
If you’re a veteran who’s been contacted by a scammer or know someone else who has been, share your story at firstname.lastname@example.org or 1-855-800-9023.
Operation Protect Veterans (AARP and U.S. Postal Inspection Service)
AARP’s Under Fire: Military Veterans and Consumer Fraud in the United States — https://www.aarp.org/content/dam/aarp/research/surveys_statistics/econ/2017/military-veterans-consumer-fraud.doi.10.26419%252Fres.00182.001.pdf