Recently, the Department of Veteran Affairs has seen an increase of fraudsters and non-accredited representatives who are targeting the pension benefits of elderly Veterans and their dependents and survivors. Victims have reportedly received suspicious calls from organizations claiming to represent or have affiliation with the VA. The caller guarantees a lucrative payout for disability compensation or pension claims for a “small fee.”
VA is committed to defeating fraudsters targeting elderly Veterans by educating them, their families and all partners about the types of fraudulent tactics being used against them, including pension poaching.
Pension poaching is the financial exploitation by an advisor who profits by artificially qualifying a claimant for VA pension benefits. The scheme often involves financial maneuvers such as advising claimants to hide their assets in trusts or annuity products sometimes resulting in lost investments and lucrative fees paid to the advisor. Pension poaching is rapidly evolving as a preferred method used by criminals to defraud elderly Veterans, survivors and their families who are eligible for VA benefits.
Below are tips to avoid being a victim to these tactics and stay protected from fraud:
• Be suspicious if someone offers to shift your assets around to qualify for VA pension. You may be required to repay benefits to the government.
• Never share eBenefits, va.gov, or other VA login credentials with anyone.
• Do not deposit VA benefits directly into a third-party bank account unless the person is court appointed or a VA accredited fiduciary.
Remember, VA does not charge for processing a claim or request a processing fee. Use VA accredited organizations to help file your claim. VA does not threaten or take adverse actions such as jail or lawsuits on claimants. If in doubt, call VA directly at 1-800-827-1000.
Protecting Veterans’ benefits against fraudulent activity is one of the best things everyone can do to honor them, their service and sacrifice. Veterans who need assistance filing for VA benefits (VA Federal, State or County Benefits) can contact the local County Veterans Affairs Office. Services are provided at no cost to the Veteran.
To report suspected activity, please contact the VA Office of Inspector General (OIG) by calling 1-800-488-8244. Complaints can also be filed with the Federal Trade Commission by visiting www.consumercomplaints.fcc.gov.