Consumer Alert: New scams targeting veterans and military families

MEMPHIS, Tenn. --The U.S. Postal Inspection Service is fighting against crooks who take advantage of the men and women who fought for us.

They've teamed up with the AARP for Operation Protect Veterans, a program designed to educate veterans and their families about scams targeting those who've served.

Research shows veterans are twice as likely to fall for fraudulent schemes.

Susan Link is a postal inspector in Memphis.

She told WREG of the crooks, "A lot of times they'll indicate that they are previous veterans themselves...they play on being a veteran."

In recognition of National Consumer Protection Week, Link and her colleagues visited the Memphis VAMC Tuesday and plan to continue warning area families about scams.

Link explained, "They're actually putting out information at the local post offices with information for the veterans and also for everyone else on how to protect themselves."

Common Scams Targeting Veterans:

  • VA loan scams-Crooks offer refinancing at extremely, low rates.

"Also, mortgage fraud scams, where you're getting behind and possibly going into foreclosure, and you'll have somebody come and knock on your door and try to get you to sell your house to them and sign over the deed," said Link.

  • Update Your File Scam-Imposters claim to be from a government agency needing an update for the veteran to maintain benefits. In reality, it's just an attempt to steal personal information.
  • Secret Veteran Benefits Scam-Caller says the vet is missing out on money, but must pay a fee to get it.
  • Benefits Buyout Offer-This scheme takes advantage of veterans in need by offering a quick upfront buyout in exchange for future disability or pension payments.
  • Fake Charitable Giving Request-Fraudulent claims about benefitting veterans or wounded service members.
  • Fraudulent Records Offer-Veterans receive a contact claiming that for a fee only the scammer can access his/her military records or government forms. However, this information is available for free through local VA offices.
  • VA Phishing Scam-Scammer claiming to work for the VA calls veterans and asks for Social Security numbers and personal financial information.
  • Bogus Employment Scam-Scammers collect personal information or charge a fee for obtaining a job that doesn’t exist.

Active service members are targets too.

FTC: Reports by Military Consumers

According to the Federal Trade Commission, 114,000 military consumers filed complaints last year.

Most of them were related to fraud including: imposter scams, phone services and shop-from-home schemes.

"It could be their spouse who's trying to find a job while their loved one is working because they change positions or duty status and duty locations all the time," added Link of how scammers try to take advantage of military families.

Veterans who need to report scams can call 877-908-3360.