Avoiding Fraud, Scams & Identity Theft
Veterans benefits are very attractive to scammers, which makes Veterans and their families a top target for fraudsters trying to steal their information and identity. According to the FTC, Veteran fraud was up by 118% last year with reported losses totaling over $267 million. Reports by AARP also show that veterans who are victims of fraud and scams are around 40% more likely to lose money and often lose more money than civilian victims. Below, we share a few of the most prevalent scams targeting Veterans, the red flags you should be looking for, and some ways to protect yourself.
Veterans benefits are very attractive to scammers, which makes Veterans and their families a top target for fraudsters trying to steal their information and identity. According to the FTC, Veteran fraud was up by 118% last year with reported losses totaling over $267 million. Reports by AARP also show that veterans who are victims of fraud and scams are around 40% more likely to lose money and often lose more money than civilian victims.
Below, we share a few of the most prevalent scams targeting Veterans, the red flags you should be looking for, and some ways to protect yourself.
Imposter scams make up around 47% of scams and are currently the most popular form of fraud targeting Veterans. Scammers will contact a Veteran and claim to be from Tricare, the VA, their bank or credit union, a charity, someone they know or even a love interest. They then try to gain their personal information so they can access and steal their benefits, money, or identity. It’s reported that Veteran imposter scams accounted for more than $40 million dollars lost in recent years.
Scammers want to get their hands on veteran pensions. These fraudsters may pretend to be an investment advisor, pension fund manager, or benefits manager and will make promises of bigger payments or a large lump sum payout if a Veteran invests with them – then disappear with their money.
Employment & Education Scams
Scammers posing as employers and educational institutions, sometimes from actual organizations and companies that are recognizable by name, target veterans who are looking for employment or to return to school to further their education. They may post on employment websites like Indeed or CareerBuilder offering jobs, training, and scholarships. Again, these could just be ploys to gain personal information and not legitimate.
Military Records Scams
Records scams target Veterans who need to access their military or medical records and charge fees for obtaining them. They often set up fake websites that require individuals to log in and provide their personal identifying information, that they later use to attempt to steal Veteran’s identity and benefits. These forms are free by law and can be accessed by visiting milconnect.
Warning Signs & Red Flags
Here are some tell-tale signs of fraud and scams that Veterans should always be looking out for:
-Being asked to verify your personal information or banking/account information
-Being offered secret specials or promotions
-The need to act fast or the deal will expire
-Winning a contest that you don’t remember entering
-Being offered a “giveaway” but having to pay taxes or a processing fee to receive it
-Misspellings or improper grammar in correspondence
-Being asked to send money or payment via money transfer apps, wire transfers or pre-paid debit cards
How to Protect Yourself
Taking these steps can help to protect Veterans and their families from fraud, scams, and identity theft:
-Store sensitive documents and personal information in a secure location like a safe or safe deposit box at your bank or credit union
-Check your credit regularly at annualcreditreport.com
-Add your number to the National Do Not Call List and report any suspicious calls you receive
-Ensure you are visiting secure websites. Secure sites use https:// and may have a padlock symbol in the URL
-Verify that emails and social media messages are legitimate before clicking on any links or downloading attachments. It’s best to delete any that you can’t verify and report as spam.
-Do not respond to unsolicited phone calls or text messages requesting personal information, PINS, or passwords. Hang up and call the organization back directly at a known number. Text is now the fastest growing contact method for fraudsters, so don’t reply or click any links sent. Doing so could download malware to your device or software that can track your keystrokes.
-Avoid connecting to public wifi and use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) instead
-Do not provide your social security number on job applications and reach out to the HR department at the company directly to see if the job posting is legitimate
-Go paperless or be sure to shred any account statements or documents containing personal or account information
-Collect your mail daily
-Update your devices regularly
-Set your social media accounts to private
-Use unique passwords and a different one for each account
-Always remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!
Want to learn more? Check out the VA’s online resource for ways Veterans can avoid fraud. The VA also offers Identity Theft Prevention Information and an identity theft resource helpline that can be reached by calling 1-855-578-5492.
Ready to get started on your savings journey? Take the Veteran Saves Pledge today and check out the 6 Steps To Establishing a Spending and Saving plan! We’ll be here to help keep you motivated to meet your goals along the way.