July is Military Consumer Month, and Attorney General Andy Beshear is warning veterans and military families to be on the lookout for the most common veteran-specific scams.
Beshear said the alert is part of his office’s “Mission Veterans Protected” (MVP) program aimed at helping Kentucky’s veteran community combat the findings in an AARP study where veterans are twice as likely to fall victim to fraud when compared to nonveterans.
“My office is currently working to help two widows of veterans who lost more than $43,000 to scammers pretending to be active duty soldiers,” Beshear said. “It is a disgrace that con artists target military families, and we are working to prevent these crimes by making sure Kentucky veterans, active duty service members, reservists and their families can identify the most common veteran-specific scams.”
Beshear said three of the top veteran-specific scams identified in the AARP study are:
1. Charitable Donations Scams – When con artists lie and claim to be a veteran or service member who is collecting charitable donations to support other veterans and veteran causes.
Tip: Verify all charities before making a donation 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. Visit the Attorney General’s website to find additional charity research tools.
2. Military Discounts and Free Programs Scams – Scammers target veterans by claiming to offer military discounts or access to free goods and services through special government programs.
Tip: If a deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Many legitimate organizations do offer genuine discounts for veterans, but first research offers online and with the Better Business Bureau. Never provide sensitive personal or financial information in exchange for a “discount.”
3. U.S. Soldier Impersonation Scams – A variety of veteran scams appear as someone who pretends to be a U.S. soldier and claims he or she needs a friend, financial help or to sell goods and services for a cheap price. The scammers go as far as opening up fake social media accounts and use real names and photos of U.S. soldiers that they have stolen from real U.S. soldiers.
Tip: If anyone you do not know contacts you and quickly asks for money it is most likely a scam. The U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command recommends soldiers and their families actively search social media sites to see if a scammer is using their name and information. Soldiers may conduct a Google image search of their social media profile pictures. If a soldier or a family member is being impersonated the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command offers a flyer that provides resources to help report and stop fake profiles.
Beshear said for additional information and a complete list of the top 10 veteran-specific scams visit the MVP website which also provides a list of upcoming community events and a printable awareness poster. The MVP program has more than 30 community partners, including AARP Kentucky, who work to serve the nearly 300,000 veterans who call Kentucky home.
“Mission Veterans Protected” is the latest step Beshear has taken to both stop con artists and help protect veterans.
Most recently, Beshear announced his office assisted in shuttering the doors of a charity, VietNow National Headquarters Inc., that misled thousands of donors by claiming contributions supported local veterans.
Beshear recommends all Kentuckians stay ahead of scammers by signing up for his office’s Scam Alerts. To enroll text the words KYOAG Scam to GOV311 (468311) or online at ag.ky.gov/scams and select text message or email alert.