Scammers are always adjusting their techniques to target unsuspecting victims, both civilians and veterans. However, the passing of the PACT Act, which expands VA benefits and healthcare for veterans exposed to burn pits and other toxic substances, has caught the attention of scammers. Veterans should keep the following information in mind to protect their VA benefits, businesses, and personal information.
Veterans Benefits Scams
According to the Veterans Benefits Administration of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), some companies advertise on TV and social media to help with filing claims, particularly for presumptive conditions or for toxic exposures. They offer their services in return for a fee or a guaranteed percentage of your benefits. But you can file a claim with the help of Veterans Services Organizations and other representatives at no cost.
Keep these tips in mind to ensure your benefits remain your own.
- Never pay someone to file a claim for you. The VA will help you complete the claims process. The VA can also assist with identifying a VA-recognized organization or a VA-accredited individual who can help you with your claim.
- Validate the credentials of anyone offering to help you with a VA claim. This can be done by using the office of the General Counsel’s Accreditation Search tool or by contacting your local representative or VA Regional Office.
- Submit your application directly to the VA. This can be done securely online via VA.gov or in person at a VA Regional office.
- Remember, there are no costs associated with this process. You do not have to pay for the forms and there is no fee to apply. The VA will never charge you to apply for benefits.
Small Business Scams
Veteran entrepreneurs should also be aware of scammers targeting their businesses. Scammers may try tricking employees with phishing emails to collect sensitive information such as passwords or banking information. They may impersonate a utilities company, calling to collect payment of a past-due bill with wire transfer or gift card. They may even send a fake invoice for items that the government provides for free, like occupational safety posters.
Your small business can steer clear of these scams by training your employees to spot them. After all, a trained workforce is your best defense against scams. Below are some tips to keep your team prepared.
- Encourage your staff to talk with their coworkers if they spot a scam.
- Train employees to never share passwords or other sensitive information, check invoices closely and avoid clicking on links in an unexpected email or text message.
- Share information with your staff. Free copies of informational materials are available on the Federal Trade Commission website.
If you think you may have been a victim of a scam, or that someone isn’t telling the whole truth about applying for VA benefits, it’s important to report it. Reports can be submitted to the Federal Trade Commission at ReportFraud.ftc.gov.
Source: Federal Trade Commission