As we honor our veterans today on Memorial Day, it is important to remember that scammers take Memorial Day as just another opportunity to scam veterans and others. In the case of Memorial Day, you can expect to be solicited by scammers by phone (remember legitimate charities can call you by phone even if you have enrolled in the Do Not Call List because charities are exempt from the Do Not Call List), email or letters asking for your money for various veterans causes or charitable ventures tied to Memorial Day.
Another common scam targets veterans and starts with a telephone call in which the veteran is told that in order to continue to receive various benefits, it is necessary to verify personal information such as the veteran’s birth date, Social Security number or bank account information. Of course, the call is not from the Veterans Administration and the call is not to verify information, but rather to gain information to be used to make the veteran a victim of identity theft.
You never know who is on the other line of a telemarketing call, so never trust them. Remember my motto, “trust me, you can’t trust anyone.” If you are at all interested in what the caller appears to be selling or soliciting, ask them to send you written materials that you can then check out to see if it is legitimate. When it comes to charities, a good place to go is www.charitynavigator.org where you can see if a charity is legitimate or a scam as well as actually how much of the money they collect goes toward their charitable purposes and how much towards salaries and administrative costs.
As for calls purporting to be from the Veterans Administration, they do not call you on the phone to verify information. If you receive such a call, you can never be sure who is really calling because clever identity thieves are able to use a technique called “spoofing” to make it appear on your Caller ID as if the call from the identity thief is coming from the VA.
Since you cannot be sure who is calling you when you receive a call asking for personal information, you should never give that information out in response to a phone call, text message or email. Instead if you have the slightest thought that the communication may be legitimate, you should contact the real entity, in this case, the VA at a phone number that you know is accurate to inquire where you will learn that the initial contact was a scam.
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