As the United States prepares to mark Veterans' Day this week, the Better Business Bureau is reminding those who served in the armed forces to be on the lookout for scams that could potentially target veterans.
“Scammers target ex-service members in many different ways,” Steve Bernas, president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau’s Chicago and Northern Illinois chapter, says. “They use vet-oriented twists on identity theft, phishing scams, impostor scams and investment and loan deceptions.”
Bernas says that these scams tend to revolve around the goal of obtaining access to the benefits the U.S. government provides to veterans after their service.
Some of the scams include:
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-Getting a phone call or email indicating that the veteran has qualified for money from a “secret” government program, but that the award requires a fee or personal information to be given first.
-Exploiting veterans in financial need by offering upfront cash in exchange for what they say will be a higher future payment for disability or pensions.
-Charging veterans for access to military records, which are available for free via the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
Scammers have also been known to impersonate VA officials, asking for personal information to “update records.”
Military veterans are urged to take precautionary steps to ensure that they are not victimized by these types of scams, including:
-Watching out for charities that sound similar to, but are not affiliated with, more well-known organizations.
-Look for a clear description of a charity’s programs, and for explanations on how it helps veterans.
-Be alert for excessive pressure in fundraising. Do NOT be pressured into making an immediate on-the-spot donation.
For more tips, and to search for information on charities, veterans are encouraged to visit the Bureau’s website.