VA Responds to Increase In VA Benefit Scams
An increase in VA benefits scams aimed at those claiming new benefits or appealing VA decisions has prompted action from the federal government.
The Department of Veterans Affairs has responded to increased VA benefits scams by launching an awareness campaign on its official site and in VA facilities. The VA added a page to VA.gov titled “Protecting Veterans from Fraud,” designed to educate veterans, spouses, and dependents to help avoid becoming the victims of VA claim scams and related VA benefits fraud.
How Bad is the VA Benefit Scam Problem?
The VA official site reports, “VA has investigated nearly 12,500 cases of potential benefits fraud and provided support to 1,164 victims of benefits scams.”
According to the VA, at least some of those cases are “linked to the new military toxic exposure benefits legislation signed into law in August 2022,” which opened VA benefits to thousands of additional veterans and their families.
With that influx of new claims comes the potential for new scams and fraud attempts by people trying to cheat veterans out of their benefits.
Veterans and Military Families: Vulnerable to Benefit Scams and Fraud
According to VA.gov, “Veterans are the targets of many of the same types of fraud as the rest of society, including mail, telephone, and online fraud. We take fraud allegations and the security of Veterans’ information seriously.”
Third parties approach some by contacting them through email, text, phone calls, or social media messages.
Others may find what they think may be legitimate lawyers offering help with discharge upgrades or filing VA disability claims, only to learn later that you don’t have to pay anyone to appeal a VA decision, file a new claim, or follow up on an old one.
The new education page notes that VA scams and hacking attempts take many different forms, but VA beneficiaries should be on the watch for any unsolicited communications from third parties offering “help” with VA benefits.
Beware any third party not accredited or recognized by the VA (see below.) One of the most common VA scam attempts? Unaccredited companies and service representatives charging veterans to file an initial claim, which is not permitted.
How to Tell if a Third Party Offering VA Claims Help is VA-Recognized
The Department of Veterans Affairs has a search tool you can use to look up a third party claiming to offer help with your VA claim or related issues. If you have been contacted by a lawyer, a Veteran Service Officer, or a Claims Agent, you can look them up using this tool to see if the VA recognizes them or not.
Additional Steps by the Department of Veterans Affairs to Combat VA Benefit Scams
The VA is also building in anti-fraud education into the benefits process to teach vets and their families how to spot VA-related scams and phishing attempts.
The Secretary of the VA was quoted in a press conference saying that medical center teams and VA administrators are being briefed on incorporating these scam warnings into regular appointments and other VA services. The Department of Veterans Affairs wants to “saturate” VA beneficiaries with anti-fraud information to normalize awareness of VA benefits scams and how they operate.
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About the author
Editor-in-Chief Joe Wallace is a 13-year veteran of the United States Air Force and a former reporter/editor for Air Force Television News and the Pentagon Channel. His freelance work includes contract work for Motorola, VALoans.com, and Credit Karma. He is co-founder of Dim Art House in Springfield, Illinois, and spends his non-writing time as an abstract painter, independent publisher, and occasional filmmaker.