It’s not like 2020 hasn’t sucked yet enough yet but the United States Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) has sent out a warning about veteran scams.
USPIS is an effective enforcement agency that many don’t think about when it comes to law enforcement. They handle so many issues when it comes to protecting consumers and they deliver results.
I don’t care what your political affiliation is, military members, do a difficult job under trying conditions and not for big paychecks. It can be life-threatening or just stressful work with little reward.
Some military families need food assistance to get by, live in sub-standard housing, and can’t make ends meet.
And yet, scammers target military members and veterans to extract money from them in a number of scams.
The USPIS and AARP came to the conclusion that members of the military are susceptible to scams because “veterans implicitly trust fellow members of the military, making them vulnerable to imposters claiming to be veterans themselves. Sometimes, because of their military experiences, veterans also find it more difficult to recognize and combat the emotional manipulation used by scam artists.”
I can see that.
Some common scams were identified:
- “Secret” Veteran Benefits Scam – Veterans are told they qualify for “secret” government programs or benefits that offer thousands of dollars – but first, they attempt to collect personal information or a fee.
- Fake Charitable Giving Request – Scammers make fraudulent claims about charities benefitting wounded service members.
- Benefits Buyout Offer – Scammers take advantage of veterans in need by offering a quick upfront buyout – usually at a fraction of the value – of future disability or pension payments.
- Veterans Affairs (VA) Loan Scams – Scammers offer to refinance Veterans Affairs loans at extremely low rates.
- Bogus Employment Scam – Scammers post fake job descriptions to collect personal information from a veteran’s job application, or they charge an employment fee.
- Fraudulent Records Offer – Scammers try to charge veterans a fee to access military records or government forms—information that is actually available for free through the National Archives (for military records) and VA.gov or local Veterans Affairs offices (for forms).
- Veterans Affairs (VA) Phishing Scam – Scammers pose as Veterans Affairs employees to get access to personal information.
- Update Your File Scam – An imposter claiming to be from a government agency attempts to get a veteran’s personal information to “update their file” so they can maintain their benefits.
- Aid and Attendance Scam – Veterans (or their family members) receive an offer to move their assets into a living trust so that they can qualify for financial assisted-living benefits.
- Veterans Choice Program Scam – Scammers set up a phone number nearly identical to the number veterans dial to find out if they are eligible to use approved health care providers outside of the Veterans Affairs system. Veterans call the fake number and a message prompts them to leave their credit card information in return for a rebate. Make sure to dial the correct number for the VCP: 866-606-8198.
- GI Bill Education Marketing Scam – Scammers use deceptive marketing tactics and provide false information to push expensive for-profit educational institutions to veterans seeking to take advantage of the GI Bill for college courses. The Veterans Affairs offers a comparison tool to help you locate a school and determine your benefits. Visit this link.
- Special Deals for Veterans Scam – Scammers offer special discounts for veterans on a range of products, like loans and car purchases, but the products aren’t discounted at all, or they don’t actually exist.
- Rental Scam – A scammer posts a fake rental property on a classified ad website offering discounts for active duty military and veterans. Once they have your security deposit, you find out there is no rental property and your money is gone.
- Romance/”Catfishing” Scams – Scammers steal a veteran’s photo and create a phony profile on a dating site to “catfish” singles looking for love.
Veteran Financial Scams
And let’s not forget the other financial scams that target veterans:
- The Base Gate Scam – Located just outside the gates of many military bases are businesses that target military members with payday loans, rent-to-own, title loans, pawnshops, and easy money lenders. A 2005 research paper said, “We consistently found high concentrations of payday lending businesses in counties, zip codes, and neighborhoods in close proximity to military bases.” – Source
- The Debt Relief Scam – Over my many decades of helping people with financial issues I’ve seen so many veterans and active-duty military that have fallen for get out of debt scams. The personal embarrassment veterans feel from money troubles leads them to seek easy answers. And it is not always that the debt relief company is intentionally targeting the military, but that there seems to be little evaluation of the veteran’s overall situation to determine if the solution sold to them is appropriate. – Source
- The Credit Repair Scams – Acting out of fear of hurting their security rating, some veterans instead turn to dubious, expensive, and ineffective credit repair pitches to attempt to remove negative credit items rather than deal with them and rebuild their credit.