There are dishonest advisers who promise veterans that they can get additional VA benefits if they invest in certain products, or offer cash now if the veteran turns over future benefits. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) states that some financial planners and insurance agents try to convince veterans to buy insurance products or transfer assets to trusts so the veteran will qualify for VA Aid and Attendance (A&A) benefits. These so-called “veterans’ advocates” advertise that they can help vets qualify for A&A; many make presentations at senior centers or assisted living facilities.
Veterans who take the pitch are likely to end up without the promised extra pension benefits, disqualified from other government benefits, and stuck in an investment product that’s not in the veteran’s long-term best interests. Read the FTC alert at www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0349-veterans-pensions.
What to do: Check out the credentials of anyone offering investment advice or file a complaint via your state securities or insurance regulatory office at www.nasaa.org or www.naic.org. Also file a complaint with your state attorney general and the FTC.
Con artists trade on Americans’ patriotism to pull off their tricks. Just because the word “veterans” is in the name of a bogus charity doesn’t mean veterans or their families will get any benefit.
Another trick is pretending to be from the Department of Veterans Affairs with emails or phone calls requesting personal or financial information that should already be on file. The VA, like the IRS and Medicare, uses the U.S. mail for all official correspondence.
What to do: Hang up and check with the VA directly.
Help With Benefits
Watch out for those who seek to charge for services like filing for pensions or other claims, or getting military records. Know that advisers who are accredited to help veterans are not allowed to charge for their services.
What to do: Get help for free from VA or service organizations. Go to https://vetrecs.archives.gov/VeteranRequest/home.html for military records like the DD-214 separation papers.
The AARP Fraud Watch Network is a go-to resource for:
- The latest breaking scam alerts, delivered right to your inbox;
- A scam-tracking map featuring warnings from law enforcement and people in your state who share their experiences so you’ll know what to watch out for;
- The Con Artists Playbook—a handbook of interviews with con artists who reveal how they steal your hard-earned money;
- A phone number you can call to talk to trained volunteers; and
- The Watchdog Alert Handbook: 13 Ways Con Artists Can Steal Your Money.
Also of Interest
- Know the 9 cheap ways to guard your personal data
- Social Security and military service
- 5 ways to declutter your home
- Help bring relief to struggling seniors; find volunteer opportunities near you
See the AARP home page for deals, savings tips, trivia and more