News Releases

Fraud Awareness

Post Date:11/16/2023

VA Secretary Denis McDonough is sharing an important message during International Fraud Awareness Week from Nov. 12-18, 2023, to raise awareness and provide Veterans tips to stay safe from predatory behavior of “claim sharks.” 

Claim sharks are professionals who use aggressive tactics through the mail, telephone and online tools to take advantage of Veterans, their families, caregivers and survivors.

With a historic expansion of benefits under the 2022 PACT Act came new tricks and scams to rob Veterans of their valuable benefits. You protected us, we want to protect you.

“We will continue to protect Veterans and will cooperate with our federal partners to bring bad actors to justice,” McDonough said.

Knowing who to trust can be hard when commercial messages come from every direction. Predatory people and organizations often target Veterans with offers of assistance that seem too good to be true. The messages are engaging, and it’s easy to be misled by these deceptive practices. Contrary to their claims, it’s important to know their goal isn’t to help you receive a benefit but to take advantage by adding on unnecessary costs or hidden fees for services. You can be assured Veterans, VA and VA-recognized Veterans Service Organizations stand ready to assist in filing their initial benefit claims properly and at no cost.

The key is awareness and education. In Secretary McDonough’s video message, he shares helpful information to protect against scammers.

VA will never charge you for assistance filing for benefits. They are your benefits, and you earned them. You can apply online at www.va.gov or in person at any VBA regional office.

You can safely access claim and benefit information and assistance from a county or Tribal Veteran Service Officer or a Veteran Service Organization: Accredited Representatives Home (va.gov).

To protect yourself from fraudulent claims, you have the right to verify anyone’s credentials before filing a claim or providing personal information: OGC – Accreditation Search (va.gov).

VA has your back in fraud protection

To promote awareness, VA launched a new website, www.va.gov/vsafe, that provides information on identifying fraud, reporting scams and finding an accredited individual or organization to help with claims.

Be a strong partner in fraud prevention by remaining vigilant and proactive. Veterans who suspect their hard-earned VA benefits have been subject to fraud or identity theft-related scams should call VA immediately at 1-800-827-1000. Missing VA benefits payments, discrepancies in payments and suspicious activity with direct deposits may also be an indication of fraud.

During International Fraud Awareness Week, learn how to outsmart scammers and protect yourself, your loved ones and your future financial security.

Perpetrators of pension poaching scams can present themselves in many professions, including attorneys and financial planners.

Pension Poaching” is a fraudulent scheme that targets Veterans, their families, and survivors who may be potentially eligible for VA benefits. Unscrupulous advisors exploit claimants by artificially qualifying them for VA Pension benefits in exchange for financial gains. They may advise claimants to conceal their assets in trusts or annuity products to circumvent pension rates for veterans and survivors. However, this financial exploitation can lead to disqualification from benefits or result in investments that earn high fees for the advisors. Furthermore, advisors may neglect to mention that the VA reviews any assets transferred in the last three years before filing a pension claim, which could require claimants to repay benefits to the government. Be vigilant and protect yourself against this harmful scam.

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