Harrisburg, PA – A staggering rise in fraudulent activities targeting veterans and service members has prompted AARP Pennsylvania to take a proactive stance against these scams. According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), scams aimed at ex-service members resulted in a shocking $267 million loss in 2021, marking a staggering 162 percent increase from the previous year. To combat this alarming trend, AARP Pennsylvania is launching a comprehensive awareness campaign to help veterans and their families safeguard their financial well-being.
Watch AARP’s “Fraud Watch Minute” on Veteran Scams.
"These scams are a grave concern for our veteran community, and their impact is both financial and emotional," said Mary Bach, Chair of the Consumer Issues Task Force at AARP Pennsylvania. "The perpetrators of these scams are ruthless, exploiting the trust and vulnerability of those who have bravely served our nation. It's imperative that we raise awareness and equip veterans with the tools they need to protect themselves from falling victim to these schemes."
Veterans and service members have been targeted from various angles, with scammers using identity theft, phishing, coronavirus-related scams, loan schemes, and investment fraud to defraud them. A disconcerting 40 percent of the military community's fraud losses stem from impostor scams. A study conducted by AARP in November 2021 revealed that veterans and service members face a significantly higher risk of being targeted by these scams compared to civilians, resulting in substantial financial losses.
David Kalinoski, Associate State Director of Community Outreach at AARP Pennsylvania, emphasized, "Our mission is to empower veterans and their families with the information they need to recognize and thwart these deceitful tactics. By understanding the warning signs and employing preventive measures, we can collectively combat these fraudulent activities and protect our veterans' hard-earned financial stability."
These scams often exploit veterans by promising access to government benefits, subsequently demanding fees or personal information in exchange. Additionally, scammers target veterans facing financial difficulties by offering upfront cash in exchange for larger future disability or pension payments. To further combat these malicious schemes, AARP Pennsylvania advises veterans to be cautious of unsolicited calls or messages requesting personal data and to always verify the legitimacy of government programs or charities before sharing information.
One particularly insidious benefit scheme involves advisers convincing older veterans to invest in financial products that seemingly reduce their assets, potentially rendering them ineligible for government assistance like Medicaid. AARP Pennsylvania urges veterans to consult credible investment advisers and thoroughly research the implications before making financial decisions.
"Veterans have earned the right to live free from the threat of scams that could jeopardize their financial security," Mary Bach stated. "By raising awareness, providing resources, and advocating for our veterans, we can make a significant difference in curbing these scams and ensuring our veterans are protected."
Report scams to local law enforcement. For help from AARP, call 1-877-908-3360 or visit the AARP Fraud Watch Network at www.aarp.org/fraudwatchnetwork.
AARP is the nation’s largest nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to empowering people 50 and older to choose how they live as they age. With a nationwide presence and nearly 38 million members, AARP strengthens communities and advocates for what matters most to families: health security, financial stability and personal fulfillment. AARP also produces the nation's largest circulation publications: AARP The Magazine and AARP Bulletin. To learn more, visit www.aarp.org, www.aarp.org/espanol or follow @AARP, @AARPenEspanol and @AARPadvocates, @AliadosAdelante on social media.
This story is provided by AARP Pennsylvania. Visit the AARP Pennsylvania page for more news, events, and programs affecting retirement, health care, and more.
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