November 11th is Veterans Day. This time-honored day was originally designated to honor those who have fought for our country. But some vets have been the victim of dishonorable scams. If you’re a veteran, here are some great tips to avoid being swindled.
For nearly a century, Veterans Day has been dedicated to honoring those who have served and fought for their country. The date commemorates the anniversary of the end of World War I.
Unfortunately, not all the battles that our vets have fought in have been in some far-off land. According to a recent AARP blog, some brutal confrontations have happened much closer to home. Sadly, veterans and their families are being targeted with a variety of sinister scams. Below are some of the most common cons aimed at our vets:
1. Hefty life insurance policy on deceased soldier – The scammer, pretending to be an overseas insurance broker, calls the widow or widower of a dead soldier, and says that the deceased took out a life insurance policy before being killed in battle. And for just a few thousand dollars, the policy’s rather large death benefit can be rescued and returned stateside.
2. Beware of VA imposters – The lowest of low is getting a phone call or e-mail from someone pretending to represent the Department of Veterans Affairs, needing to verify some personal information, such as Social Security numbers, driver’s license number, bank or credit card information, etc. Before volunteering any personal or financial information, it might be advisable to first call your local VA office for further verification.
3. Looking for love in all the wrong places – Another common scam is someone posing as an active-duty officer, who then attempts to lure lonely, but patriotic women into giving them money, with the enticement of a possible romantic relationship. These scammers pretend that they’ll be shipped out soon to parts unknown, and that they may never be coming back. So the con artist offers to sell his car…at rock-bottom prices…before he ships out. Some vulnerable women have fallen for this sad scam.
4. Giving to fake charities – This is a very common scam. You get a phone call from someone representing a charity that benefits veterans. These phone or email scams tend to increase during the fall holidays (Thanksgiving, Christmas, etc.) and patriotic holidays (Veterans Day, Memorial Day, etc.). There are, of course, plenty of legitimate veteran charity organizations out there. Before donating, check the authenticity of the charity by contacting the Wise Giving Alliance, operated by the Better Business Bureau.
5. Grandparents beware – Sometimes scammers target the grandparents of a serving soldier. The scammers find an item in the local newspapers or online that gives them enough information to work with, such as the announcement of a soldier being deployed overseas. The scammers then use this information to approach surviving family members for “contributions.” Grandparents can sometimes be a soft touch to this type of scam. By the time other family members find out about the scam, the scammers are long gone.
6. Returning vets can be vulnerable to employment scams – A soldier comes home and needs a job. Scammers will list imaginary jobs (in newspapers and job boards on the web), in the hope of gaining personal or financial information from applicants, so these grifters can commit identify theft.
Recognizing these common scams can help prevent veterans and their family from getting ripped off by truly unpatriotic people. Celebrating Veterans Day shouldn’t be marred by such conniving con artists and their sleazy scamming schemes.