Listen to this article here
Oklahoma’s 312,000 military veterans and active-duty service members are at risk of being targeted by scammers. On Wednesday, April 20th, AARP launched the AARP Veterans Fraud Center, a new online education and resource center to help protect veterans, service members and their families against fraud.
According to an AARP survey, one in three military/veteran adults reported losing money to scams that are specifically trying to take advantage of the trust they have in the military community. Veterans, active-duty service members and their families are 40 percent more likely to lose money to scams and fraud than the civilian population. These individuals lost more than $267 million in 2021, up from $102 million in 2020 (a 162 percent increase), according to the Federal Trade Commission.
“Targeting scams at members of the military community is unconscionable,” said AARP Oklahoma State Director Sean Voskuhl. “AARP has launched this effort to alert veterans and their families of the latest scams and how to avoid them.”
Top scams aimed at veterans include:
- Benefit buyouts: turning over U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) pension and/or disability benefits for a supposed lump-sum payment that never materializes (47 percent).
- Fraudulent records scam: paying for updated personal military records (32 percent).
- The fake charitable giving request: donating to fake veteran charities (32 percent).
Free resources include:
- A new AARP Watchdog Alert Handbook: Veterans’ Edition, highlighting tips to detect the most common ways con artists target veterans and military families;
- The AARP Fraud Watch Network and Scam-Tracking Map; and
- Operation Protect Veterans—a joint program of the AARP Fraud Watch Network and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.
Key fraud protection tips AARP’s Fraud Watch Network recommends include: signing up for both state and national Do Not Call registries and using a call-blocking service; using strong and unique passwords for each online account; using two-factor authentication when available; and placing a free security freeze on credit reports at each of the three major credit bureaus. Also, veterans never have to pay for their service records or earned benefits—if told otherwise, it is a scam.
To learn more about the AARP Veterans Fraud Center and to download a free copy of the new Watchdog Alert Handbook: Veterans’ Edition, visit aarp.org/vetsfraudcenter. For additional resources and information on AARP’s support for veterans and military families, including caregiving, competing in today’s job market, and connecting with earned service benefits, visit aarp.org/veterans.