In 2021, military fraudsters stole $257 million from service members and Veterans.
In recent testimony to the House Oversight and Reform Committee on National Security, the Federal Trade Commission stated that this number is a 162% increase from the previous year. Further, the data indicates that the average amount of money lost by military scam victims is a 20% increase from non-military scam victims.
Now more than ever, if you are a service member, Veteran or military spouse, it is imperative to be educated on the ways these scam artists and fraudsters can target you. These attacks generally happen through unsolicited phone calls and emails by people misrepresenting themselves, either by pretending to work for VA or an organization sympathetic to our military community.
Veterans might encounter the following scams:
- Identity Theft
- Pension Poaching
- Coronavirus Scams
- Investment Fraud
- Schemes with various offers or military discounts
- Illegal auto sales
- Deceptive claims and recruiting tactics at for-profit schools
- Sham charities that exploit the public’s desire to help Veterans
Veterans can take precautions to minimize their chance of becoming a victim, such as being vigilant with personal information and watching out for aggressive fundraising tactics that ask them to donate money to a “Veterans Charity.“
How to Stay Safe
- Think twice if you receive emails or letters that look unprofessional and have misspelled words.
- See if a charity is legitimate by checking with Charity Watch.
- Answer your benefit questions by contacting the VA Benefits Hotline. For other benefit-related questions, refer to this database.
- Ensure that investment advisors are legitimate by checking with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority tool.
- Contact VA directly at 1-800-827-1000 if you receive correspondence from VA stating you filed a claim, but you did not.
What Not to Do
- Never assume that a company or charity with a military-sounding name is legitimate.
- Never open emails from unknown senders that appear to be spam emails.
- Do not make donations through FedEx, UPS or a similar carrier. Scammers use these shipping and receiving companies to avoid mail fraud charges.
- Never give out your personal or financial information to anyone unless you are confident who it is.
- Never pay for copies of your military records—you can acquire those for free at VA.
- Never wire money to strangers, even if they say they are Veterans.
- Don’t allow anyone access to your VA information unless that person is your authorized power of attorney.
If you are the victim of a Veterans-related scam, please contact the FTC by phone at 877-382-4357 or on their website. You can also contact VA’s Office of Inspector General for other ways to fight fraud.