Sadly, not only elders, but many of our country’s veterans are targets of scam artists. A recent articles from Forbes.com highlights five common scams and how to deal with them. Hopefully, increased awareness will minimize the number of those who fall victim.
Veterans find themselves the target of fraud often due to the guaranteed benefits they receive. Sometimes, just the fact that scammers know monthly payments are often not enough to cover expenses makes veterans a target. We’ll look at these five common scams targeting veterans.
1. Phishing. While phishing can target more than just veterans, some scammers target veterans by appearing to call from the Department of Veterans Affairs. They ask to update your information, but steal it in the process. The VA never calls, emails, or texts veterans to update information. Also, be aware that you should never click on links or open attachments from an unknown email address or phone number.
2. Apartment Scam. These scams are often perpetuated against civilians as well as veterans, but are increasingly targeting military members and veterans. A scammer will post about an apartment for rent and offer a military discount. All the scammer requires is a wire transfer of the security deposit. Anytime a request is made for payment via wire transfer or in gift cards, that should be a red flag.
3. Fake Sale. That leads to the fake sale scam. In this scam, the scammer posts a big ticket item online, indicating that he or she is deploying and looking to get rid of it at a steep discount. Again, the scammer will request payment via wire transfer or by gift card. That’s always a red flag. You should always ask to look at an item in person when possible or pay via a more secure method that can be undone should it prove to be a scam.
4. Fake Charity Scam. In this scam, a telemarketer calls to solicit donations for what sounds like a legitimate charity or one that supposedly serves military members, their families or references the Armed Forces in some way. Most legitimate charities do not solicit donations over the phone. However, there are still some who do. If at any time you feel pressured or uncomfortable, it’s always best to hang up and do your research. Give.org is a good resource and can also help you choose organizations that ensure the majority of their donations go to programs that serve their intended audience.
5. Benefits Buyout or Pension Advance. This scam usually involves a scammer or even a company purchasing future pension payments from a veteran in exchange for a lump sum payment now. For veterans in financial difficulty especially, it can be a tempting offer. However, these case payments are usually a fraction of the payout of the benefit. In the case of a pension advance, veterans may be unaware that the lump sum payment they receive is actually an unregulated, high-interest loan.
Ideally, you should avoid all email, mail or phone solicitations. Again, if you feel pressured or uncomfortable at any time or if there are any red flags, you should avoid the transaction. Scams like these are unfortunately just the tip of the iceberg, so it’s always worth doing your research.
Reference: Forbes.com (November 6, 2016) “Scam Alert: Top Five Veteran Swindles”