Postal Inspectors Warn Veterans Of Scams Targeting Them

Devils Lake Journal

NORTH DAKOTA – The U.S. Postal Inspection Service is warning the nation’s veterans that scammers are creating and implementing scams specifically designed for them. These scams include

    COVID Vaccination Scams: Scammers will offer veterans a “cut in the vaccination line,” cash payments, or other incentives around obtaining a COVID vaccination.

    Romance Scams: Veterans and active-duty service members are tempting targets for “catfishing” romance scams, where scammers will utilize a picture of a service member posted online and create fake dating profiles to lure unsuspecting singles into giving up personally identifiable information and/or money.

    VA Loan Scams: Offers to refinance VA loans at extremely low rates.

    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.

    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.

    Pension Poaching Scam: Scammers often offer veterans lump sum payments upfront, in exchange for signing over all their future monthly benefit checks.

    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-Iiving benefits.

According to an AARP survey, veterans are twice as likely to be targets of scammers as the general public. That is why the U.S. Postal Inspection Service joined with AARP to create Operation Protect Veterans, a crime prevention program designed to provide information and resources to veterans and military families nationwide about scams and fraud schemes specifically created for them.

What can veterans do to protect themselves? Operation Protect Veterans recommends the following:

    Don’t give any personal information over the phone to someone who contacts you. This includes bank account numbers, credit card numbers and your Social Security number.

    Don’t be pressured into acting immediately.

    Always check out any offer with a family member, trusted friend, local Veterans Affairs office, or local Better Business Bureau chapter.

    Contact your telephone service provider and ask what kind of services they offer to help you block unwanted calls.

    Sign up for real-time fraud alerts by visiting the AARP Fraud Watch Network website: www.aarp.org/fraudwatchnetwork.

    If you believe you have been scammed, don’t let shame prevent you from reporting it. Contact your local police, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service (www.uspis.gov or 877-876-2455), or AARP (protectveterans@aarp.org or 877-908-3360).

“In addition to many of the same scams fraudsters use to target veterans, we’re now seeing more ‘timely’ scams, like those related to COVID,” said Chief Postal Inspector Gary Barksdale. “And as May is Military Appreciation Month, it’s a great time for everyone to become informed and spread the word about scams targeting veterans in order to, in some small way, help repay the tremendous debt we all owe those who have served.”

K. William Boyer is the Managing Editor of the Devils Lake News Journal. He can be reached at kboyer@gannett.com, or by phone at (701) 662-2127.  

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