Scammers Pose as Veteran Advocates
September 16, 2015
Navigating the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) can be an overwhelming process for military men and women of all ages. Veteran advocates are available to guide service members through the system. However, advocates should be accredited with the VA and offer free services, and unfortunately scammers are exploiting the system and stealing from veterans.
Attorney General Leslie Rutledge issued today’s consumer alert to educate veterans, servicemen and women and military families about ways to spot scam artists posing as legitimate veteran advocates.
“It is terrible that con artists target these brave men and women who serve and protect our country,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Dishonest advisors can steer veterans in wrong direction and steal money from them. Some of these ‘advisors’ go to great lengths to appear trustworthy, even renting a storefront or creating a logo that is similar to a trusted advocate program.”
Attorney General Rutledge released the following tips for members of the military community looking for assistance.
- Applying for veterans’ benefits is free, and those accredited by the VA are not allowed to charge for assisting or submitting paperwork.
- Confirm that an advocate is accredited through the VA and has been trained to help with completing and submitting claims to the VA by going to the Veterans Service Organizations section of the VA website.
- Research advocate organizations to find out more information about their practices before agreeing to work with them.
- Do not be pressured into agreeing to work with an advocate. Do not spend any money until considering all the options. Advocates should not require payment or advanced fees.
- Only the VA can approve or deny claims. Even advocates who are accredited by the VA cannot promise any specific outcome.
The Federal Trade Commission tracks unscrupulous advocates who encourage veterans to move financial assets to qualify for Aid and Attendance benefits. Shifting money around could result in veterans losing other benefits, including Medicaid. Aid and Attendance benefits help senior veterans who need assistance to pay for in-home care, assisted living facilities or nursing homes and cannot be guaranteed because they are only available in limited circumstances.
Contact the Arkansas Attorney General’s Office Public Protection Department at 800-482-8982, the VA Office of Inspector General at 800-488-8244 or the Federal Trade Commission at 202-326-2222 to report any issues with veteran advocates. Complaints may also be submitted to the VA Office of Inspector General at va.gov/oig/hotline. For more information on other tips to avoid being scammed visit ArkansasAG.gov or facebook.com/AGLeslieRutledge.