MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — Dorothy Dorton with AARP Alabama joins us. Here’s a look at our conversation.
How big of a problem are scams for our Nation’s military members?
Unfortunately, fraud and scams are a major problem for our military, affecting as many as 4 in 5 members. In 2017, AARP research found that 78% of our retired military members have been targeted by scams specifically crafted to exploit their military service history. It also found that 16% of veterans have lost money to scammers, compared to only 8% of the non-military public.
What are some of the top scams veterans face and what do they look like?
· Bogus Benefit Buyouts are common – these are where a company will offer an upfront payment of cash in exchange for the veteran’s future disability or pension payments. These offers are typically a fraction of the value of the veteran’s benefit. And they can be illegal if they are improperly structured.
· The VA Phishing Scam is similar to other phishing scams – scammers call claiming they are from the VA & ask for personal information to update Veterans/Military records.
· The Fake Charity Scam is another that is all too common – scammers will make up fake charities that have the word “veteran” in them or they’ll use a name that closely resembles a real charity because they know that veterans remain true to the men and women who serve.
What should veterans do or not do to protect themselves?
• Don’t make financial decisions in a heightened emotional state and ask more questions than you answer.
• Protect your Social Security Number and personal information by never giving it out over the phone to someone who’s called you unsolicited.
• Before investing, do your homework on the investment, the company, and the salesperson to ensure that they are legitimate. You can look them up at Smartcheck.gov. • Check out a charity before donating to make sure they are legitimate at charitywatch.org or charitynavigator.org.
For more information about protecting yourself and loved ones from scams and fraud, visit aarp.org/fraudwatchnetwork. And if you want to report a scam or if you or a loved one needs help because you’ve fallen victim, you can call the AARP Fraud Watch Network Helpline at 1-877-908-3360.
What about the shredding event you have coming up next Saturday?
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure when it comes to fighting identity theft. People can avoid this fraud by shredding their junk mail, old papers that carry your Social Security number, old bank and financial statements and medical bills.
We are excited to offer a free shredder next Saturday, November 16th from 8:00 am – noon
· At the Via Center at 1717 Dauphin Street in Midtown
· Each vehicle may drop off 2 letter-sized storage boxes OR 2 large garbage bags of documents
Just make sure there are no 3-ring binders, cardboard, power cords, binder clips, etc · The shredding is free but you must register at https://aarp.cvent.com/ShredVia or call 1-877-926-8300