Scams against Veterans trade on other people’s patriotism and gratitude to make money that really belongs in the pockets of our vets.
1. Special deals for vets. These scams take a number of forms — like offering a discount on things like loans, car purchases and house rentals. They may not be really discounted at all. And, in some cases, they may be for non-existent products or services, fooling veterans into parting with their money in the belief that they get a special deal when, in fact, they get nothing at all. Take Action: Some organizations do offer genuine discounts for veterans but check these offers out carefully and never wire payments to someone you don’t know.
2. Phishing. Here, scammers phone the victim, claiming to be from the Veterans Administration, who supposedly need to update their records. Take Action: Don’t accept the caller is who they say they are. Ask for their name, hang up and call the VA yourself to check.
3. Dubious investment advice. According to the retirement organization, AARP, solicitors calling themselves “veterans advocates” target vets in community centers and nursing homes, claiming their victims are entitled to additional benefits. They say they need to review the veteran’s investment portfolio first and then they usually try to persuade them to place their investment in a trust, so they appear to have fewer assets than they really have, entitling them to an additional pension. That may or may not be true, but as AARP says, “The bigger concern is that the new trust usually contains annuities, long-term investments that are often considered inappropriate for older retirees. Some annuities must be held for a decade or longer before they pay out a monthly income.” Take Action: Always check out the credentials of an investment adviser via your state regulatory office.
4. Charging for military records. This is a variation on a well-known con in which people are fooled into paying for information that’s already available for free. Action: Contact the Veterans Admnistration or your service unit if you want copies of your records. Don’t allow someone who’s providing another type of service for you to claim they have to pay for your records — get them yourself.