Military and Veteran Consumer Protection
Florida has the third largest population of veterans in the nation. Research shows veterans are twice as likely to be targeted for scams. Empowering our heroes and their families to safeguard their finances helps protect those who protect us.
Benefits Buyout Offer – This scheme offers a quick lump-sum buyout for future disability or pension payments. Companies that offer this buyout often only end up paying a fraction of the veteran’s benefits over time. Veterans should think twice about entering such an agreement.
Secret Benefits Scam – A caller says the veteran is missing out on money, but must pay a fee to claim it. Veterans benefits are available to claim at any time free of charge. Florida veterans should contact the Florida Department of Veterans’ Affairs for questions regarding unclaimed benefits.
Phishing Scam – A caller claims to work for the federal government and asks veterans for Social Security Numbers and personal financial information to update military records. Active military and veterans should never give out personal information over the phone. Do not click on hyperlinks contained in emails from unknown individuals or businesses.
Phony Employment Scam – Scammers are aware that past military experience appeals to many employers and use that to their advantage. Scam artists will collect personal information by advertising fake positions to steal someone’s identity or may even charge a fee for locating a job that doesn’t exist. If a company or organization is mentioned in an ad or interview, contact that company directly to find out if they are hiring.
Mortgage Relief Scam – Military homeowners looking for assistance with paying their mortgage should be cautious of this type of scam. Some mortgage relief companies will try to convince servicemembers and veterans to pay a fee in exchange for a loan modification or to stop foreclosure. It’s against the law for mortgage relief companies to charge any money until you have been given a written offer from your lender and you have accepted it. If you’re struggling to make you mortgage payment, there are legitimate programs that can help.
Pension Scam – Veterans 65 and over are targeted by financial advisers persuading them to transfer pensions into a special trust and charge excessive fees. The advisers claim to help veterans qualify for Aid and Attendance benefits, but may cause them to lose eligibility for Medicaid or access to their pension.
Credit Repair Scam – Scam artists claim to improve your credit score, remove bankruptcies, judgments and liens, and repair your credit. Under federal law, credit repair companies cannot require you to pay any fees until they have completed the service they promised. Financial counselors on your military installation can help review your credit report free of charge and dispute errors on the report. Active military servicemembers should also consider freezing their credit before deploying. As of July 1, 2018, credit reporting agencies can no longer charge a fee to freeze your credit.
Courtesy of the Florida Department of Financial Services.
Military and Veterans Assistance Program
The Military and Veterans Assistance Program (“MVAP”) was created by the Florida Attorney General’s Office to help educate military members and veterans on the types of scams that target their communities, what they can do to protect themselves, and how they can help protect others by reporting scams and deceptive business practices. In addition, members of the MVAP team work directly with military servicemembers and veterans who have been targeted, or their representatives, to help resolve their consumer protection related issues or find other outside assistance if necessary.
If you are aware of a scam targeting our servicemembers or veterans, or have been affected by a scam or deceptive business practice, please file a complaint by calling the Attorney General’s consumer protection division at 1-866-9-NO-SCAM (1-866-966-7226). For more information, visit http://www.myfloridalegal.com/MVAP
Protecting Veterans Against Fraud
The U.S. Postal Inspection Service and the AARP Fraud Watch Network recently launched Operation Protect Veterans – a nationwide campaign to warn military members and veterans about scams and fraud schemes that target them. A recent survey conducted by the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago showed that 16 percent of U.S. veterans have lost money to fraudsters, compared to 8 percent of nonveterans. A major component of the Operation Protect Veterans campaign includes distributing printed brochures at more than 37,000 post offices to warn veterans about the scams. For more information, visit https://postalinspectors.uspis.gov/