Veterans who receive calls or recorded messages claiming to be from "veterans services" should have their guard up.
A Veterans Affairs VAntage Point blog post reported that many service members, veterans, and military spouses have been the target of fraudulent calls from companies that purport to be affiliated with the VA or its home loan servicer.
The post warns that callers, using caller ID spoofing to appear legitimate, “often try to sway you to refinance your home, agree to a loan modification, or pay your loan via purchased money orders.” They may even try to convince you you're facing foreclosure. The post includes tips for spotting and avoiding VA home loan scams from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
Veterans have also been targeted by call back scams attempting to elicit financial and other personal information. The scammers will leave a message like this: Your VA profile was flagged for two potential benefits to the changes in the VA program. These are time sensitive entitlements. Please call us back at your earliest convenience.
The fraudulent call-back number connects to "veterans services" where "benefits," such as loan modifications to their mortgages are offered. To activate the offer, the scammer will ask the caller to verify personal information, including social security numbers, dates of birth and bank account numbers. Scammers can use such information to steal money, open fraudulent accounts, or sell the information to other bad actors looking to commit identity theft.
The Federal Trade Commission reported that military retirees and veterans who filed reports with the agency in 2020 lost $66 million. Military consumers, including active duty U.S. service members, veterans, and reservists, filed more than 65,000 fraud reports with the FTC, and more than 56,000 instances of identity theft, according to the FTC's annual Consumer Sentinel Network report. The top fraud complaint was for imposter scams and the number one target of identity theft was government documents or benefits fraud.
If you get a call that offers any of the above "services," hang up immediately. If you get a voice message, write down the callback number and contact law enforcement to report the scam. Also, file a complaint with the FCC at consumercomplaints.fcc.gov.
Unexpected calls requesting personal or financial information should always raise a red flag.