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% 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% increase), according to the Federal Trade Commission.
AARP new resources identify top scams facing the District of Columbia’s military community and offers ways to fight back. Military veterans and active-duty service members are at risk of being targeted by scammers. In response, AARP launched its AARP Veterans Fraud Center, a new online education and resource center to help protect veterans, service members and their families against fraud.
The data released from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in February 2022 painted a grim picture for the military community, which continues to be among the groups most preyed upon by con artists.
Based on reports submitted by consumers in 2021, the number of fraud attacks against veterans, military members and their spouses jumped 69 percent compared to the previous year, according to the 2021 Consumer Sentinel Network Data Book. Of those 110,827 reports of fraud, 26 percent resulted in financial losses, which totaled $267 million. Individual victims within the military community reported losing more money than their civilian counterparts, with a median loss of $600, compared to $500 for civilians.
“Targeting scams at members of the military community is unconscionable,” said Ronald Hampton, a veteran and the volunteer state president for AARP District of Columbia. “AARP 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%).
• Fraudulent records scam: Paying for updated personal military records (32%).
• The fake charitable giving request: Donating to fake veteran charities (32%).
Free resources in the AARP Veterans Fraud Center include:
• A new AARP Watchdog Alert Handbook: Veterans’ Edition, highlighting tips to detect the most common ways con artists target veterans and military families;
• Operation Protect Veterans—a joint program of the AARP Fraud Watch Network and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.
Some top tips from the AARP Fraud Watch Network include: signing up for the National Do Not Call Registry 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’s 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 www.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 www.aarp.org/veterans.