Scammers are on the prowl with Americans’ increased anxiety over COVID-19. As we commemorate Military Appreciation Month in May, a warning goes out to veterans and military families since they are twice as likely as civilians to be targeted by con artists.
According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), there have been over 20,300 COVID-19 complaints carrying an estimated $15.6 million in losses since the start of 2020. U.S. service members and veterans should take particular notice because these fraudsters have tailored their fake pitches to mix the pandemic with top concerns of those who have worn a military uniform.
AARP’s Fraud Watch Network and Operation Protect Veterans initiative have received reports of COVID-19 treatment scams, imposters posing as TRICARE with free testing kits, fake charity pitches claiming to help veteran and military families, as well as a number of phishing scams trying to steal one’s personal identity, financial information, and even Veterans Administration (VA) benefits. Scammers are also pushing non-existent COVID-19 vaccines or remedies.
With business slowed and money tight, some scammers falsely claim to be raising money for charities to help those most in need – including veterans and military families. Don’t fall for it. Before donating, AARP’s fraud prevention specialists warn to always research the charity using a site like charitynavigator.org or give.org to ensure they’re legitimate. And, don’t willingly share your credit card or banking information over the phone, email, or text, if you’ve verified the charity. Go straight to the confirmed charity’s website to donate through a secure process.
Phishing scams by email are popping up daily from government imposters posing as Social Security, VA, or the IRS – especially with the $1,200 stimulus payments going out. And if you click their links, these scammers are one step closer to stealing your personal and/or financial information. Moreover, these sneaky pitches now have spread to smart phones. The Federal Communications Commission reports that many Americans are receiving texts from the so-called “FCC Financial Care Center” offering $30,000 in relief to those affected by COVID-19. But as FCC points out, there is no such program.
On May 14, AARP in the NC Coastal Region is being joined by the representatives of the Veterans Administration, and the offices of Senator Richard Burr and Representative Greg Murphy for free webinars for veterans and their families. Participants will have a chance to ask questions and to learn more the recent scams related to COVID-19 and the IRS stimulus checks, as well as work and jobs, caregiving resources, available veteran benefits and more. The webinar is being held twice on May 14. Join us and learn how to protect your and health and wealth with the vast number of benefits for veterans.
Resister here for the 11:00 am session: https://aarp.cvent.com/VIRTUALVeteransmorning
Register here for the 7:00 pm session: https://aarp.cvent.com/VIRTUALVeteransEvening
Suzanne LaFollette-Black has been a gerontologist for the past 35+ years. She is the AARP NC Associate State Director of Advocacy and Community Outreach. Suzanne’s career has been in the aging network as a non-profit nursing home administrator, Area Agency on Aging Director, Executive Director of Moore County Department of Aging. Suzanne is originally from Window Rock, Arizona (Navajo Indian reservation). Suzanne has a BS in Sociology and minor in Zoology/ Music from NAU and graduate studies at USC Ethel Andrus Percy Gerontology program and MASA from University of North Texas, Denton, Texas. She served as the NCAOA (NC Association on Aging, Inc.) President from 2018-2020; Rotary; NCIOM Deaf and Hearing committee; Governor’s Highway Safety Executive Committee; and other community organizations.
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