Veterans, active service members being targeted by scammers

Serious black woman in camouflage uniform using laptop while sitting at table. After war rehabilitation of female soldier. Little boy play on couch in background. Modern comfortable flat

FRANKFORT, Ky. – A new survey by AARP finds veterans, military service members and their families are nearly 40% more likely to lose money to scams and fraud than are civilians.

Scammers often use military jargon and specific government guidelines to lure in active-duty military members and veterans. The Rev. Dr. Jim Thurman, Kentucky state commander of the National Association for Black Veterans, said the most common scams include asking veterans to turn over pensions or disability benefits for a supposed “lump sum” that never materializes, asking for payment to update personal military records, and asking for donations to fake military charities.

“These scammers, they know that the veterans receive benefits, their family members receive benefits,”: he said. “They are specifically after those.”

More than 1,600 people, including 851 active or former service members, responded to the survey this fall.

Thurman recommended signing up for the National Do Not Call Registry and using a call-blocking service. Anyone who suspects they’ve been approached by scammers can contact AARP’s Fraud Watch Network at 877-908-3360. Thurman also reminded Kentuckians that veterans never have to pay to access their service records or earned benefits – and if told otherwise, it’s a scam.

The report also found that military and veteran adults reported losing money nearly twice as often as did civilians on grandparent-imposter scams, where fraudsters pretend to be grandchildren seeking money, as well as phishing schemes. Thurman pointed out that older veterans in particular should be on guard.

“Stay alert, know the various operations the scammers are using,” he said, “and if you get an unsolicited phone call or text or an email, just disregard it.”

According to the state Department of Veterans Affairs, more than 300,000 veterans live in Kentucky.