BALTIMORE — While we honor our nation's military veterans on Veterans Day, we also want to keep them from being scammed.
There are many schemes specifically aimed at service members. And according to the Federal Trade Commission, out of the 45,848 fraud reports filed by active service members, more than 3,800 lost $23.3 million since 2016.
The top complaint continues to be government impostors.
The United States Postal Inspection Service along with the AARP launched Operation Protect Veterans to warn veterans of common schemes. They include:
- VA Loan Scams: A fake offer to refinance veterans affairs loans at extremely low rates
- Update Your File Scam: An impostor claiming to need personal information to update their file
- Secret Veteran Benefits Scam: Veterans are told they qualify for a secret government program and that requires an upfront fee or handing over personal information
- Pension Poaching Scam: the promise of a lump sum payment in exchange for signing over all future monthly benefit checks
- Aid and Attendance Scam: Phony offers to move money to qualify for benefits or false claims to get benefits fast for a fee
The AARP found that veterans implicitly trust fellow members of the military making them vulnerable to impostors, and the high PTSD rate can make it more difficult for them to recognize and combat emotional manipulation used by scam artists.
What can you do?
Talk to veterans about these kinds of scams. Don’t be pressured into acting immediately. Legitimate entities won’t pressure you to act before checking it all out.
If a veteran believes they have been targeted by a scam, they are encouraged to contact the Maryland Secretary of State's Office at 410-260-3879 or 800-825-4510 (for scam charity concerns) or the Attorney General's Office/Consumer Protection Division at 410-528-8662 (for consumer or health-related scam concerns).
Contact the Maryland Department of Veterans Affairs for credible information on veterans benefits.
And report all scams to the local police, AARP, and FTC.