Voice of the consumer: Veterans more likely to fall for scams

11 Call For Action lead investigator Katie Pelton.
11 Call For Action lead investigator Katie Pelton.(KKTV)
Published: Nov. 15, 2021 at 7:42 AM MST
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Our 11 News Call For Action team pens a weekly column for our news partner The Gazette. Previous columns can be found here.

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KKTV) - On the heels of Veterans Day, I want to share some important new research with you so you can share it with your friends and family. AARP found that veterans are much more likely to fall for scams than civilians. Similar results were found from a study a few years ago. The experts say the most important thing is to educate our community and share the warning signs that service members can watch for.

“What people need to realize is those who are vulnerable, at a vulnerable place in their lives, are more likely to be scammed,” said Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser. “When you’re leaving active service, that’s a major transition, a transition when you may be looking for new educational opportunities, or you might be moving, or you might be subject to any number of scams that will prey on either your hopes or your fears, which means we need to do better to support our veterans as they leave active service and enter civilian life.”

AARP said four out of five military members or veterans were targeted by scams related to their service or the benefits they receive. One in three who were targeted by a scam, ended up losing money.

Many of the common themes include housing-related scams, romance scams, employment scams and benefits-related scams.

“If you’re leaving active service, you have accrued some pensions, you may get people calling you, pretending to help you with your pension,” Weiser said. “What they’re actually doing, is trying to harm you. What you need to know is when someone calls you and says, ‘Oh I’m a financial professional, I want to help you.’ Do your homework. If someone tries to pressure you and says, ‘Act now, or you’ll lose these benefits’, don’t take the bait. So we need smart and well-prepared professionals to work with our veterans.

“What we don’t need are disreputable scammers who are trying to make a quick buck at their expense. We need to help our veterans so they get what they deserve and they’re not taken advantage of.”

Here are some things to keep in mind. Hang up if you get an unsolicited call. Make sure you check the credentials of the person calling you. If someone is raising money, confirm that the charity is legitimate. Never give out any sensitive or personal information to someone who calls you randomly over the phone.

“One of the things all of us have to deal with are robocalls, or these emails with pressure tactics and they often will try to say, ‘You have some type of debt that you’re going to need to pay or else you’re going to have somebody come after you.’ Like older Coloradans, those who have served, they actually are more likely to take seriously claims that they are violating the law because they are so committed to following the law, and they may actually pay money because they’re saying, ‘Okay, if I’ve got this debt, what do I need to do,’” Weiser said. “Those urgent phone calls, they’re not real. You’re not going to have people threatening you with immediate jail or other consequences, so please be on alert for those and don’t fall prey.”

Instead, hang up the phone and call the company or organization using a trusted phone number to see if they are actually trying to get a hold of you.

If you lose money to a scam, you should report it to local law enforcement. You can report scams and fraud to the Attorney General’s consumer hotline at 800-222-4444, press option 2 to speak with AARP Elderwatch.

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