Veterans, active-duty service members and military families are nearly 40 percent more likely than the general population to lose money to scams and fraud. According to the Federal Trade Commission, reported fraud attacks against our nation’s heroes and their families jumped 69 percent from 2020 to 2021. Read on to stay a step ahead of these criminals.
How It Works:
- Calls and ads about a Camp Lejeune “settlement,” offering (paid) help to receive benefits.
- Offers to buy out disability or pension benefits with a lump sum payment.
- Offers to overhaul investment holdings to qualify for Aid and Attendance benefits.
- A call from the “VA” seeking to update the veteran’s records.
- A request to donate to charities in the name of our nation’s veterans.
What You Should Know:
- The Camp Lejeune Justice Act, part of the PACT Act that became law in August, allows vets and their survivors to pursue compensation if they developed serious illnesses from water contamination at Camp Lejeune. To learn more, visit VA.gov/PACT or call 800-698-2411.
- Any unsolicited offer to maximize VA benefits is likely a scam, or at least an unfair business practice.
- Veterans Affairs will not contact you out of the blue and ask for sensitive personal information.
- Criminals set up fake service-related charities to line their own pockets by appealing to former service members’ commitment to others who serve.
What You Should Do:
- Ignore unsolicited offers related to your VA benefits. Use VA-accredited representatives to help you instead. The VA maintains a searchable database of attorneys, claims agents and veterans service organizations.
- If you are concerned about any communication claiming to be from the VA, confirm details with the VA directly at 800-827-1000.
- Charitable giving is a critical tool to support causes you care about; research charities to make sure your money is going where you intend. Resources include give.org, charitynavigator.org, and charitywatch.org.
Stay on Top of Veterans Scams: AARP's Veterans Fraud Center is an online hub with information on the latest scams targeting the military community, tips for spotting other types of consumer fraud and specially tailored resources to help protect veterans and military families.
Support for Fraud Victims: The AARP Fraud Watch Network offers AARP VOA ReST, a free program that provides emotional support for people affected by fraud. Hour-long ReST sessions are confidential small-group meetings that are held online and led by trained peer facilitators. Experiencing a scam can be devastating, but it doesn’t have to define you. Interested? Visit aarp.org/fraudsupport to learn more.