Today’s post comes to us from the Federal Trade Commission, written by Carol Kando-Pineda.
Veterans Day is almost here and it’s a fitting time to honor veterans for their service. It’s also a good reminder that scammers may be targeting you as a veteran. Of course, many of the scams that impact civilians hit veterans as well. But scammers also try to get in your good graces by emphasizing — maybe even stretching the truth about — their time in service. They hope to gain your trust so you won’t stop and ask questions about their pitches.
Some dishonest businesses set their sights on the monetary benefits veterans get for their service, especially with the passing of the PACT Act, which expands VA benefits and health care for veterans exposed to burn pits and other toxic substances.
According to the Veterans Benefits Administration of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), some companies advertise on TV and social media, offering assistance with filing claims — particularly for presumptive conditions or for toxic exposures — in return for a fee or a guaranteed percentage of your benefits. But you don’t need to pay to file a claim. VA can assist you — or help you identify a VA-recognized organization or VA-accredited individual to help you with your claim. Submit your application securely online via VA.gov or in person at a VA Regional Office. There is no cost for the forms and no fee to apply. VA will never charge you to apply for the benefits.
Veterans Service Organizations (VSOs) and representatives are available to assist in filing claims. To help guard against fraud and scams, validate the credentials of anyone offering to help you with a VA claim by using the Office of General Counsel’s Accreditation Search tool or by contacting your local representative or VA Regional Office.
As we lead up to Veterans Day, watch this space for more posts about other deceptive practices targeting veterans: small business scams, charity scams, and bank impersonator scams. If you run into one of these scams, or if you suspect that someone is not telling you the whole truth about applying for VA benefits, the FTC wants to know. Report it to us at ReportFraud.ftc.gov.