The statistics we hear about scams and fraud are nothing short of staggering and a new AARP survey shows that scams targeting veterans are on the rise. Scammers will stop at nothing to steal veterans’ benefits including pension payments and much more. Please consider the following scams and take a look at the survey results. Of those who lost money, the top scams reported include:
- Benefit Buyouts: Turning over U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) pension and/or disability benefits for a supposed lump-sum payment that never materializes (47%).
- Fraudulent records scam: Paying for updated personal military records (32%).
- The fake charitable giving request: Donating to fake veteran charities (32%).
Other key findings include:
- Military/veteran adults reported losing more money than civilians on the grandparent-impostor scam (more than twice as often) and financial phishing schemes (nearly twice as often).
- Nearly half of military/veteran adults reported they are not using a robocall blocking service and over 1 in 4 have not registered their phone numbers on the National Do Not Call Registry.
- 81% of military/veteran adults have not placed a security freeze on their credit report.
If you are a veteran, you are unfortunately a target, so be mindful of this reality in your day-to-day transactions. Remember that The Veterans Administration will never call you, e-mail or text you to verify or update your information. Only work with VA-accredited representatives when dealing with VA benefits; you can search for them online at the VA Office of General Counsel website.
If you would like a copy of the Veteran’s Edition of the AARP Watchdog Alert Handbook: 10 Ways Con Artists Target Veterans, you can download it for free by visiting www.aarp.org/veterans or call AARP Fraud Watch Network at 1-877-908-3360.
Another important way to protect yourself from scams and identity theft is to place a freeze on your credit report. Identity theft can be devastating because once armed with enough personal information, a scammer can access their victim’s credit report. With access to the credit report, an identity thief can then open a credit card, apply for a loan or even apply for government benefits, all in the name of their victim.
The best way we can protect ourselves from identity theft is to prevent criminals from obtaining our sensitive information in the first place. This is why placing a credit freeze with all three major credit bureaus is considered the most effective way to block identity thieves. When the freeze is in place, our credit reports are protected. Contact the Maine Bureau of Consumer Credit Protection for all the details by calling 800-332-8529 or visiting https://www.maine.gov/pfr/consumercredit/file_freeze_info.htm.
As a veteran, you have protected our country with your service. Now let us help you protect yourself from scams that target veterans and your guaranteed benefits. As with all scams, vigilance is your number one weapon.
AARP Maine Communications Director
FMI: Visit www.aarp.org/fraudwatchnetwork or call our toll-free hotline at 1-877-908-3360. It’s free and available to anyone of any age whether you are an AARP member or not.
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