They Protected Us. Now It’s Our Turn to Protect Veterans From Scams.
This year, National Consumer Protection Week runs from March 3–9, 2019. Once more, the focus is on veterans as the United States Postal Inspection Service®and the AARP Fraud Watch Network continue to promote Operation Protect Veterans, a joint national campaign that highlights vet-related scams and fraud schemes.
Research shows that veterans are frequently targeted by scam artists and victimized twice as often as the rest of the public.1 In a survey conducted by the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago, veterans reported that they encountered a large number of scams directly related to their military service or the veterans‘ benefits they receive. For instance, veteran scam victims say they are more likely to:
n Trust a person who has previously served in the military.
n Donate to charities that support service members and veterans.
n Have had a “negative life event,” such as a serious injury or illness, mental health disorder, addiction, or financial issues (i.e., accumulating a significant amount of debt).
The goal of Operation Protect Veterans is to leverage the combined reach and communications capabilities of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and the AARP Fraud Watch Network to help veterans avoid losing money to con artists. Brochures detailing these schemes were distributed last year through USPS® retail offices across the country and at public libraries, military museums, and through the Veterans of Foreign Wars.
Additionally, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and AARP used social media channels and “Tele Town-Halls” to reach hundreds of thousands of veterans. To date, the campaign has received responses from over 12,000 former or current members of the military who described scams directed towards their military benefits or that sought to take advantage of their affinity for veterans’ issues.
The U.S. Postal Service® is one of the nation‘s largest employers of veterans. Postal Inspectors continue to warn Postal Service™ employees who have served in the military about the following scams:
n The benefits buyout offer. Scammers take advantage of veterans in need by offering a quick, upfront buyout of future disability or pension payments, usually at a fraction of the value.
n The fake charitable giving request. Scammers make fraudulent claims about charitable giving that benefits veterans or wounded service members.
n Fraudulent records offer. Scammers try to charge veterans a fee to access military records or government forms. This information is available for free through local U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) offices.
n The VA phishing scam. Scammers, who claim to work for the VA, call veterans to “phish” for Social Security numbers and personal financial information.
n The bogus employment scam. Scammers post fake job descriptions to collect personal information from a veteran’s job application or charge an employment fee.
“The U.S. Postal Inspection Service is committed to protecting veterans from scammers,” said acting Chief Postal Inspector Gary Barksdale. “Scam artists deliberately use false claims of military-service brotherhood. Patriotism among vets can be a powerful window into their hearts and wallets. We are working hard to inform Postal Service employees about scam artists who tailor their pitches towards former and active service members.”
For more information about Operation Protect Veterans, we encourage Postal Service employees and their families to use the following resources:
n The U.S. Postal Inspection Service website: postalinspectors.uspis.gov/.
n The AARP free helpline staffed by AARP volunteers trained in Fraud counseling: 877-908-3360.
n The AARP website: action.aarp.org/site/SPageNavigator/FWN_OperationProtectVeterans.html.