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BEACON Senior News - Western Colorado

Veteran scams to watch out for

Oct 31, 2023 12:48PM ● By Karen Telleen-Lawton

While the existence of veteran benefits isn’t a military secret, they can change throughout a veteran’s lifetime. This means that, as a veteran, you can arrive at seniorhood without a clear picture of what is available. As a result, you may not receive all the benefits you could, or you may be vulnerable to scammers who prey on military families.

Some benefits, such as commissary privileges, disappear when you stop active duty but reappear upon retirement or disability. With age or disability come other services, such as Aid and Attendance, which may cover some costs for caregivers, nursing homes and even long-term care. 

Military benefits can also cover illnesses or injuries related to your military service. Even veterans who become ill after service-related exposure to contaminants can apply for medical and disability coverage. Surviving spouses and dependents may even be eligible for tax-free payments of Dependency and Indemnity Compensation.

Disabled vets may qualify for life insurance and help with burial costs.

The best thing vets can do is to assume they may be eligible for these resources and apply. Spouses and dependents may qualify, too.

The military community is loyal to one another, which can lead to unwarranted trust when you believe you are dealing with another vet.

Unfortunately, military families and veterans are twice as likely to become victims of scammers, according to a 2018 study by AARP. The best way to improve this statistic is to make veterans twice as likely to report scams, whether or not they fall victim to one.  

Some of the more popular scams include “secret” VA benefits, benefits buyouts and VA loan scams. 

In benefit buyout scams, criminals posing as veterans contact you to offer cash in exchange for any future benefits you may be entitled to. They may claim you can get more benefits by investing with them. They may even offer you a contact phone number or website that’s similar to an official one. Perhaps they offer medical services they claim are covered by the VA. 

But if they are reaching out to you without you first contacting them, it’s likely they’re not legitimate.

Benefit schemes aren’t the only scams. Anyone “phishing” for your personal records is up to no good. They may try to charge you for your records or ask you personal information that will allow them to access your records and benefits. Again, if you didn’t solicit the contact yourself from official sources, do not bite. 

It’s difficult because they can be convincing. Scammers seem like nice people and may offer you great deals on a car, a loan or a place to live. They may even offer you a job or encourage you to take college courses through the VA bill. Because there are many VA benefits, these may sound like something legitimate. But always double-check their information with official websites before giving out personal details.

How do you avoid falling prey to swindlers? Deal only with legitimate organizations. If you’re not sure if an organization is legit, take their name and contact information down so that you can get back to them when you are not feeling pressured.

Report suspicious phone calls, emails or mailings by calling the Colorado Attorney General’s office at 720-508-6000. 

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