Attorney General Andy Beshear issued a Military Consumer Month Alert this week to help stop veteran imposter scammers.
Throughout the year, and with an expanded focus during July, Beshear’s office works to reverse statistics reported in an AARP study that found veterans are more likely to be targeted by scammers and twice as likely to fall victim to fraud when compared to nonveterans.
This year, Beshear’s office has received more than 20 scam complaints from veterans in 18 counties including, Fayette, Franklin, Hardin, Jefferson, Kenton, Madison and Ohio counties.
Beshear said the lowest-of-the-low are scammers who pretend to be veterans or military personnel in order to steal from Kentuckians and veterans who have served their country.
“It is despicable that con artists specifically target those who have sacrificed so much for our country,” Beshear said. “My office is issuing an alert because we want to make sure our veterans, active duty service members and their families have the resources they need to avoid these imposter scams.”
According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) imposter scams are the number one type of scam reported across the U.S. and in Kentucky in 2018 and so far this year. The top veteran-specific imposter scams Beshear is warning Kentuckians about include:
Charitable Donation Imposters
Scam: Con artists lie and claim to be veterans or service members collecting charitable donations to support other veterans and veteran causes.
Tip: Verify charities before making donations and never send cash, wire money, pay in gift cards or use other untraceable methods of payment. Donors who are not familiar with a charitable organization can verify official organizations on CharityNavigator.org.
U.S. Soldier Impersonation
Scam: When a scammer pretends to be a U.S. soldier and claims they need financial help or are looking to sell goods or services for a cheap price. The con artist may even go as far as opening up fake social media accounts and using stolen names and photos of real U.S. soldiers.
Tip: Soldiers should search social media sites to see if scammers are using their information. Soldiers should also conduct a Google image search of their social media profile pictures and, if necessary, follow online U.S. Army tips on how to report and stop fake profiles.
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Imposters
Scam: A call, email or social media communication from someone claiming to be an employee of the VA. The scammer may pretend they need to update military records or offer special programs, services or discounts.
Tip: If you did not initiate contact with the VA and suddenly receive a call, email or text from someone saying they are a VA employee, it is most likely a scam. Independently verify and contact the actual VA and never provide personal, medical or financial information to an untrusted caller.
Beshear asks Kentuckians to report scams to his office by filing an online consumer complaint. The AG’s Office of Senior Protection also provides mediation services and assistance to anyone who falls victim to a scam.
Online resources provided by Beshear’s office include a website dedicated to protections for military personnel, and includes a Consumer Protection Guide for Military Service Members. The FTC provides comprehensive information to protect veterans from identity theft at IdentityTheft.gov.
Veterans can now also take advantage of the FTC’s new Free Electronic Credit Monitoring for Active Duty Military Rule, which implements a 2018 law that requires the nationwide consumer reporting agencies to provide free electronic credit monitoring services for active duty military consumers.
Beshear encourages veterans to take advantage of the free monitoring service to help them stay ahead of scammers and be more aware of any suspicious or fraudulent credit activity.