There are many new popular schemes aimed at selling veterans financial products they don’t need or charging them for services which are otherwise free.  These kinds of schemes, referred to as “pension poaching,” may be perpetrated by attorneys, financial planners, insurance agents or others who use misleading or incomplete information to encourage veterans to make decisions about their finances in order to qualify for benefits. Many scammers are targeting veterans in senior centers, assisted living facilities and other locations where scammers make guarantees about qualifying for benefits with a high pressure sales pitch for their products.  Some unscrupulous financial planners attempt to take advantage of veterans by offering high-priced services that veterans and their families can typically obtain for free. So called government imposters are at it again, using the FTC’s name to try to con veterans into paying them for some service or product. Whether it’s to clean up your credit report, give you a prize, resolve a complaint against you, or pay off a debt you owe to the government, the scammers have created convincing lies to con veterans out of their money. The message may be a call or an email, but it isn’t from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), or any other federal agency, even though it may look “official.” Here’s the key to recognizing the con:  If someone claiming to be a government employee asks you to send money to collect a prize or remove negative information from your credit report, don’t do it. And don’t give them your personal or financial information. A highly sophisticated scam targeting veterans is making its way around the United States.  This new scam is targeting disabled veterans and the veterans applying for disability compensation.  This highly sophisticated scam makes use of new telephone technology that gives the impression the scammer is actually calling from a veterans’ local VA Regional Office. The caller pretends he/she is a VA official from the veterans nearby VA Regional Office.  The caller, pretending to be a rating official, or claims specialist, informs the veteran that he/she has been awarded 100 percent disability rating as a result of military service-connected disabilities. Then, the scammer will ask the veteran for a bank account number to which the scammer claims to initiate monies owed to the veteran and will be automatically deposited into their account. Don’t give it, the VA has a phone number that you can call to set that up at your convenience. If you are in doubt, hang up and call me. For more information, contact Sandra at the Veterans Service Office at 602 Strong Ave on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10am to 3pm, or call 365-3612.

Sandra G. Van Zant

Veterans County Service Officer

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