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How to Avoid Phone Scam Conning Veterans Out of Money

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Phone scammers have been around almost as long as the telephone itself. Modern technology such as robo-dialers, spoofing devices and VOIP calling have only made it easier for scam artists to look like a legitimate caller when they’re actually out for your hard-earned money. One of the latest scams is taking advantage of our nation’s veterans. With Memorial Day just around the corner, it’s even more upsetting that anyone would set up a scam targeting those who’ve served our country.

Thankfully, there’s a way to avoid it. Here’s how the scam works. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has a program called the Veterans Choice Program (VCP). The idea of the program is to allow eligible vets to use approved health care providers outside the VA system. To verify their eligibility, veterans or their family members need to call a toll-free number.

And that’s where the scammers come in. They’ve set up a number that’s nearly identical to the real VCP number. A simple misdial puts vets in touch with the scam artists rather than VCP, and they won’t even know it. When veterans call this incorrect number, they think they’ve reached VCP. The fake line’s message makes callers believe their entitled to a rebate of some kind – all they have to do is give up their credit card information.

This should be a big red flag. Neither VCP or any other government agency will ask you for account information. If you do give out your card number, the scammers will debit the account, you won’t receive a rebate and you’ll have to cancel your credit card.

To avoid this scam, take a few simple steps.
1. Be sure to call 866-606-8198
2. If you’re not sure you’ve gotten the right number, hang up and call again
3. Do not share your credit card information

If you or someone you love has been a victim of this scam or other identity theft, it can be reported to the government. The VA also has its own identity theft prevention program.

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