Scammers are known to target a variety of vulnerable groups and demographics around the country. Unfortunately, Veterans are also being taken advantage of due to the large quantity of agencies that support them and the ease in disguising a scam organization as one of the many legitimate ones. It is important that Veterans and the United States greater military community be aware of the fraudulent scammers and how best to identify them to prevent being taken advantage of.
1. Never provide personal or financial information to an unsolicited caller or untrusted websites. Scammers have been known to make unsolicited calls claiming to be from the Department of Veteran Affairs. The Department of Veteran Affairs has stated that they “simply do not call Veterans and ask them to disclose personal financial information over the phone."
Be especially protective of your Social Security Number.
2. Check the IRS’s list of registered non-profit companies and charities and confirm the charitable background of companies that solicit donations. In the past, scammers have masked themselves as part of charitable organizations that benefit veterans and requested “donations”. If you would like to donate to a charitable organization, you can search the IRS’s list of registered charities and non-profit organizations to verify whether an organization is a genuine charity.
3. Contact the Better Business Bureau (BBB) to confirm the legitimacy of local charities. Some scammers have been reported soliciting donations door to door for local organizations. In this case, a background check might be better conducted by contacting your city’s local Better Business Bureau. The Better Business Bureau rates organizations based upon multiple categories of ethical business standards. Veterans Advantage has earned an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau – their highest rating.
Charity Navigator or Guidestar, for instance, are also other credible sources to check out charities.
4. Use Google and other search engines to perform your own background check. Most organizations have their own online website or at least some online content written about them. Use search engines to investigate an organization.
5. Contact the Department of Veteran Affairs. The Department of Veteran Affairs acts as the government’s official department in relation to Veterans Benefits and other official Veteran related matters. By contacting the Department of Veteran Affairs, you can confirm the authenticity of a solicited benefit. You can reach the department at 1-844-698-2311.
6. Prevent Unsolicited Calls and Requests. Respond to unsolicited requests by asking them to mail you information to evaluate their offer and legitimacy on your own time. If they do not comply, ask them to delete your phone contact information from their records.