America’s Vets Have a New Enemy: Scammers!
Bruce Carlson, AARP Washington ~ The bad guys deliberately call retired soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen, pretending to be old friends, offering “sure thing” investments, finding ways to steal their money. The data says it all: One in three victims of investment fraud in America are military veterans, a recent AARP study found. And the situation is only getting worse: There’s been a 65% increase in fraud complaints from vets over the past five years, notes the Federal Trade Commission’s Consumer Sentinel.
Now it’s time for each of us to stand up on behalf of veterans. AARP’s Fraud Watch Network is launching a campaign to protect veterans from scams. The goal: engage thousands of people like you to watch for suspicious solicitations that target military veterans. Your reports will be used to build tools and methods to protect veterans from the latest scams.
WE NEED YOU! To participate, simply look for suspicious emails, phone calls or traditional mail that target veterans and REPORT IT! Below are some examples of veterans scams that we have heard about:
- The Update Your Military File scam: A caller claims to be from the Department of Veterans Affairs and asks to “update” your information, but really is hoping to get personal information to be used to steal your credit.
- The Cash for Benefits scam: Scammers target veterans in need of money by offering cash in exchange for their future disability or pension payments. These buyouts are typically a fraction of the value of the benefit.
- Charity scams: A caller claims to be raising money for disabled veterans or veterans with cancer or a similar sounding name. But often, the so-called charity is not registered with the government and/or uses most of the money to raise more funds and pay their salaries.
- VA Loan Modification scam: The scammers contact military families offering to help refinance their VA loans and then ask for upfront fees. They never provide the promised loan.
You don’t need to have absolute proof that an offer is fraud to report it. If you see something suspicious, send us an email describing the potential scam to email@example.com. You can also take a picture of the potential scam mailing or email with your smart phone and email it to the same address: firstname.lastname@example.org. Or simply call 1 855-800-9023 and leave a detailed message. Your reports will be held in confidence by AARP and will be used for consumer education purposes only. Your name will not be made public.
Thank you for helping us protect the veterans who have protected us so admirably.