VA sees uptick in fraudsters targeting pensions

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The Department of Veterans is reporting an uptick in the number of fraudsters who are out to get veterans pension and disability benefits. Photo credit File photo

The Department of Veterans Affairs has recently seen an increase in the number of fraudsters and non-accredited representatives who are targeting the pension benefits of elderly veterans, their dependents and survivors.

That’s according to a VA blog post, which notes that the fraudsters claim to be from an organization that represents or has an affiliation with VA. The callers often guarantee a lucrative payout for VA disability compensation or pensions for a “small fee.”

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Known as pension poaching, the scheme often involves financial maneuvers such as advising claimants to hide their assets in trusts or annuity products sometimes resulting in lost investments and lucrative fees paid to the advisor. It is rapidly evolving as a preferred method used by criminals to defraud elderly veterans, survivors, and their families who are eligible for VA benefits.

To avoid being a victim to these tactics, here are some helpful tips to remember when protecting yourself from fraud:

- Be suspicious if someone offers to shift your assets around to qualify for VA pension. You may be required to repay benefits to the government.

- NEVER share eBenefits, VA.gov, or other VA login credentials with anyone.

- DO NOT deposit VA benefits directly into a third-party bank account unless the person is court-appointed or a VA accredited fiduciary.

Remember, VA does not charge for processing a claim or request a processing fee. Use VA accredited organizations to help file your claim.

VA does not threaten or take adverse actions such as jail or lawsuits against claimants. If in doubt, call VA directly at 1-800-827-1000.

To report suspected activity, please contact the VA Office of Inspector General (OIG) by calling 1-800-488-8244. You may also file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission.

Reach Julia LeDoux at Julia@connectingvets.com.