You can’t afford to fall victim to scammers. In the five years ending in 2019, fraud cost Veterans, service members and their families more than $338 million, according to Federal Trade Commission (FTC) data. Impostor fraud was the top complaint during each of those years.
The pandemic has ushered in swindles involving everything from stimulus checks to fake coronavirus cures. Those are in addition to the familiar ruses that employ a Veteran-focused twist on identity theft, phishing, charity scams, investment schemes and loan deceptions. The crooks’ goal is often to manipulate or gain access to government benefits provided to those who served our nation.
“Younger Veterans may be looking at people that might be trying to rip them off on things related to education, finding a job, starting a business,” says Carol Kando-Pineda, an attorney for the FTC’s Division of Consumer and Business Education. Older Veterans may face similar pitches and solicitations for work-at-home schemes, which lure potential victims with the promise of fast cash but may charge a large up-front fee or seek credit card information.
Military families may be particularly vulnerable to fraud because they relocate frequently and because younger families may be living on their own or earning a paycheck for the first time, the FTC warns.
“Folks in the military are taught to depend [on] and take care of each other,” Kando-Pineda says. “Unfortunately, scammers will try to take advantage of them and claim some sort of [military] affiliation to gain their trust.”
AARP provides free resources to all Veterans, military personnel and their families, regardless of whether they are association members
Whether you or a loved one may be the target of a scam, or you want to learn more about scam prevention, visit the AARP Fraud Watch Network online or call its toll-free helpline at 877-908-3360.
Here are more steps that Veterans can take to combat fraud. These are critical given that former service members and military families are twice as likely as civilians to be targeted for scams, according to research by AARP’s free Fraud Watch Network.
Download or print the AARP Watchdog Alert Handbook: 10 Ways Con Artists Target Veterans. Learn how to protect yourself and your loved ones from scammers.
Get to know Operation Protect Veterans. AARP teamed up with the U.S. Postal Inspection Service to expose swindles that focus on Veterans. Report suspicious emails, texts, phone calls or printed materials by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 877-908-3360.
Learn from the costly experience of one Veteran, awarded a Purple Heart for combat injuries in Vietnam, who fell victim to two con artists promising COVID-19 grants.
Review the do’s and don’ts Veterans should follow after recognizing the warning signs that a scammer has made contact.
Bookmark the Veterans, Military and Their Families page on AARP.org — aarp.org/veterans — to stay up to date with the latest news and information affecting older veterans. AARP resources for veterans are free and available to nonmembers.
(Online Event) Five Ways to Protect Veterans & Military Families from Fraud & Scams in 2021: Join AARP, the USPIS, and the FTC for a free “Operation Protect Veterans” webinar. You’ll hear from fraud fighting experts about the top scams and frauds targeting Veterans and Military Families in 2021, get your questions answered live, and learn more about stopping scammers in their tracks. The webcast will be streamed live Jan. 26, 2021 at 7:00 pm EST or on-demand at your convenience.
The sharing of any non-VA information does not constitute an endorsement of products and services on part of the VA.