Skip to content
 

Veterans Are Being Targeted By Scammers

Report from AARP shows how fraudsters take money from military members, vets

Veteran Using a Laptop

Getty Images

Bob Edwards:

Hello. I'm Bob Edwards with an AARP Take on Today. It's Veterans Day, a time to honor the service and sacrifice of military veterans. Most of the calls veterans receive today should be from friends, loved ones and well-wishers, but unfortunately many veterans will also be contacted by scammers. Here's an example of a scam provided by the Federal Communications Commission.

Scammer:

Your VA profile was flagged for two potential benefits to the changes in the VA program. These are time sensitive entitlements. Please call us back at your earliest convenience.

Bob Edwards:

A new AARP report found that four out of five military or veteran adults were targeted by scams directly related to their military service or the benefits they receive. We've discussed before how scammers have countless ways to deceive people into giving up their money.

Bob Edwards:

To learn more about how they specifically target veterans we're talking with Troy Broussard, a senior advisor for AARP's Veterans and Military Families Initiative. Having served in Operation Desert Storm, Broussard is a veteran himself. Troy, thank you for joining us.

Troy Broussard:

Bob, it's a pleasure and honor to be here today with you.

Bob Edwards:

What types of scams target veterans?

Troy Broussard:

You know, Bob, they're very specific that the scammers really focus on as it relates to veterans. The first one that we found throughout this survey was fake veteran charities or causes. That preys upon our veterans giving back and want to make sure that they are fighting for another cause.

Troy Broussard:

The second one would be the VA home mortgage loan schemes. That one is huge. It really preys upon our veterans as well.

Troy Broussard:

Then also the last major one is bogus free medical equipment for service related injuries. The scammers are really targeting veterans and their families around these three major ones that... The feedback that we received from the report.

Bob Edwards:

Any idea how much money has been lost by veterans to scams?

Troy Broussard:

According to the Federal Trade Commission, the losses were nearly $122 million alone in 2020, and I will tell you a lot of these frauds and things, about nearly 66,000 of them and more than 55,000 identified, comes from military consumers in 2020. But we know that those scams are significantly under reported, so the real losses are more than likely far higher than that, Bob.

Bob Edwards:

Why do you think scammers specifically target people who have served?

Troy Broussard:

What we found is that scammers target veterans and those who serve already things that are free for them. They use military jargon. They really focus on getting very comfortable with veterans. They'll use words like the DD Form 214, so they use the jargon to get our veterans to build a trust factor and then pitch to steal money from military members and veterans.

Troy Broussard:

I want to share this here with you. One in three military veteran adults reported losing money to these types of service related scams, and this is why we want to bring this to light to our veterans, military and their families through this report.

Bob Edwards:

Tell me about the red flags that veterans should know about.

Troy Broussard:

I think that the largest red flag that we have out there now is that veterans never have to pay for their own service records. If they're told otherwise it's a scam. An offer for a military or a veteran to update their medical records by providing personal identifying information seems like routine and legitimate, but that is a big red flag, so we want to make sure that our veterans stay away from that.

Troy Broussard:

The VA will never ask for your personal information via email, only via mailed letters, and the VA does not threaten claimants with jail or lawsuits. Those are some of those red flags we need to be conscious of and keep it at the forefront.

Bob Edwards:

How can veterans lower their risk of being targeted for a scam?

Troy Broussard:

The best way for veterans to protect themselves from scam is to definitely focus on sign up for a robocall blocking service. This will minimize the number of robocalls that you get.

Troy Broussard:

I would also add add your telephone numbers to National Do Not Call Registry and donotcall.gov. We found that 27% of veterans said that they did not have their phones registered to the Do Not Call Registry, so that's key.

Troy Broussard:

Then lastly I would recommend place a security freeze on your credit report with each of the three major credit bureaus. This will stop the criminal in his tracks from opening up new accounts in the veterans' names.

Bob Edwards:

Just the irony of picking on people who have already given plenty.

Troy Broussard:

You know, Bob, that's the part that is just so difficult, that our veterans, my fellow veterans, we sacrificed for this country. We put our lives on the line to make sure that we give back to a country that we hold so dear to us, so that's why throughout this conversation here I want to make sure that we do not talk about people being duped or scammed.

Troy Broussard:

We're going to focus on that they were victimized. They were victimized by this particular scam, and we're going to bring that information and those resources out to insure that they are prepared for this next battle, that they are ready and armed to go ahead and take care... So it's our turn to take care of the veterans as they have done for us. Does that make sense?

Bob Edwards:

Indeed. So what is AARP doing about this problem?

Troy Broussard:

I think the major thing that we've done, we worked together with AARP's Fraud Watch Network. We're working together with the United States Postal Inspection Service on Operation Protect Veterans. This is a public awareness initiative to help veterans, military and their families fight back and protect themselves and their loved ones by raising the visibility to the most current scams, frauds and identity theft schemes that we've covered here today.

Troy Broussard:

The AARP Fraud Watch Network is a free resource that equips consumers with up-to-date knowledge to spot and avoid these scams. So if you've been targeted by a scam or fraud you are not alone. The AARP Fraud Watch Network Helpline can provide you with free support and guidance to do what's next.

Bob Edwards:

Anything else we should know?

Troy Broussard:

I would recommend that our veterans be vigilant, be ready, understand the resources, and make sure that they call the free AARP Fraud Watch Network Helpline at 1-877-908-3360. Then for more information and resources on veterans with the latest fraud and scams visit www.aarp.org/veterans.

Bob Edwards:

Troy Broussard is a senior advisor for AARP's Veterans and Military Families Initiative and a US Army Desert Storm veteran. Thank you, Troy, for your time and for your service.

Troy Broussard:

Bob, it was an absolute pleasure being here today and it was an honor to serve our country. Thank you.

Bob Edwards:

In episode 46 Troy Broussard joined us to discuss caregiving and fraud support for veterans and their families. For more information and resources for veterans on the latest fraud and scams visit aarp.org/veterans.

Bob Edwards:

That's it for today's show. If you liked this episode please let us know by emailing us at newspodcast@aarp.org. Thanks to our news team, producers Colby Nelson and Danny Alarcon, engineer Julio Gonzales, executive producer Jason Young, and my co-hosts Wilma Consul and Mike Ellison.

Bob Edwards:

Become a subscriber on Apple podcasts, Google Play, Stitcher, or other apps. Be sure to rate our show as well. For an AARP Take on Today, I'm Bob Edwards. Thank you so much for listening.

A new AARP report finds that veterans are more likely to lose money to scams than civilians. Fraudsters often use military jargon and specific government guidelines to craft an effective pitch to steal money from military members and veterans. AARP’s Troy Broussard, a veteran himself, reveals scammers’ tactics and shares tips on how to protect yourself from thieves.

Subscribe:  Apple Podcasts | Google Play | Spotify | Stitcher | TuneIn

How to Listen and Subscribe to 'Take on Today' Podcast

iPhone or iPad

  1. Open the Apple Podcasts app, search for the show title and select it from the list of results.
  2. Once on the show page, click the "Subscribe" button to have new episodes sent to your phone or tablet for free.
  3. Click the name of an episode from the list below to listen.

Android Phone or Tablet

  1. Open the Google Play Music app, search for the show title and select it from the list of results.
  2. Once on the show page, click the "Subscribe" button to have new episodes sent to your phone or tablet for free.
  3. Click the name of an episode from the list below to listen.
  1. To play podcasts on your Amazon Echo smart speaker, ask the following: "Alexa, ask TuneIn to play Take on Today podcast" OR "Alexa, play Take on Today podcast on TuneIn"
  2. To play podcasts on your Google Home smart speaker, ask the following: "Hey Google, play Take on Today podcast"
     

Note: We are currently in the process of replacing our commenting service, so it may take a few days for previous comments to appear. Login or register on AARP.org to join the conversation.