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New benefits scam hitting Kentucky veterans

October 11, 2018 - 12:36 pm
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Beware a new scam aimed at stealing social security and benefits checks from veterans and senior citizens.

Kentucky’s Attorney General office says they've received several reports from veterans saying con artists are switching bank account information in order to receive monthly bank deposits.

In this new wave of rip-offs, someone calls you, pretending to be an employee of a bank, the Social Security Administration or a veteran organization.  The victims are told their bank account must be reverified following suspicious activity. 

"Con artists will stop at nothing to steal, including targeting seniors who rely on their benefits as a large portion of their income after retirement," says Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear. "Thanks to those making reports to our office, we know that this scam is trending in the state and it is especially critical that Kentuckians validate any benefit changes directly with the legitimate organization."

According to the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), veterans are twice as likely to be victimized by scam artists.  Because of this, AARP put together a list of the most recent ways criminals are targeting veterans.

  • Government grant program – An offer for you to take advantage of a little-known government program for the military that could result in thousands of dollars in increased benefits.
  • Cash for VA payments – This is an offer to receive an immediate, large lump sum of cash in return for signing over your monthly VA or disability benefits.
  • Tax debt relief – An offer to reduce taxes you may owe.
  • Student loan – This is an offer for you to go back to school and have it paid for because of your military service.
  • Medical bills help – An offer to receive help with medical bills because of your military service.
  • Drug discounts – An offer for you to get help paying for prescription drug medication because of your military service.
  • Help with assisted living – An offer to help you qualify for nursing home or assisted living benefits because of your military service.
  • Free back, leg or arm brace – An offer to pay for a free back, arm or leg brace due to your military service.
  • Cremation or burial services – An offer to purchase cremation or burial services at a discount because of your military service. 

There are three basic steps to follow in order to protect yourself from any of these scams. 

  1. Don’t respond to unknown callers. If you didn’t contact the Social Security Administration or VA and are randomly contacted by them, more than likely it’s a scam.
  2. Never provide personal, financial or account login information to unknown or unverified people. Always contact the legitimate agency on your own before any transaction.
  3. Protect your computer and banking information by using security software, firewalls and keep security patches and passwords up to date.

If you think you’ve been scammed, even if you didn’t fall for it, contact VA’s Identity Safety Service.  The helpline, (855) 578-5492, is open Monday – Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.  You can also contact the office via email at [email protected].  After calling VA and your local police, immediately call your state’s attorney general and let them know what happened.  Then you should file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission.

For more information on how you can protect yourself or to just see what VA is doing to help, check out the Identity Theft Prevention website too.  You may also want to download the AARP Watchdog Alert Handbook Veterans’ Edition to learn about other common scams and general fraud prevention tips.

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