Chances are you’ve made some mistakes with  

your money. Most people do. But you should  

also be prepared for a different set of financial 

mistakes: The ones that other people want you  

to make so they can profit from your loss.

While veterans aren’t the only ones who are 

targeted in financial scams, you need to be on 

your guard against people who praise your service 

to your country as a gambit to sell you a product 

or service that’s not in your best interest. 


Con artists who want to get their hands on your 

money may offer “available only to veterans” deals 

that turn out to be pitches for phony vacation 

trips, over-priced electronic equipment, bargain 

tires, or a discounted rate for providing copies of 

your military records that you can get for free by 

requesting them yourself online. 

The scams vary: What you think you’re buying 

may never materialize, or, if it does, may be  

defective. Too often the fine print may reveal  

that you are paying far more than you realize,  

and far more than you should. 

Be particularly suspicious of appeals to your 

generosity, especially requests for contributions to  

military-sounding charities. If you want to express 

your solidarity with older veterans, wounded  

warriors, or others who need your help, look for  

a legitimate organization that deserves your 

support. You can find ratings of various military 

charities at www.military-money-matters.com, 

www.charitynavigator.org, and www.charity 

watch.org. You can log in to the Federal Trade 

Commission at www.ftc.gov  

and search for “charity 

scams” for articles, current 

alerts, and updates.



Potentially more 

dangerous scams 

are those known as 

spoofing or phishing. 

In both cases, crooks try to get  

hold of your personal information. Once they  

have it, they can log in to your accounts or use 

your identity to obtain credit cards, open lines of 

credit, or get your tax refund, among other things. 

If you receive an email saying the VA needs to 

update your records or certify your eligibility, hit 

delete. Official requests are never made this way.

In one scam claiming to be from the Defense 

Finance and Accounting Service, disabled  

veterans were asked to send their VA award  

letter, tax returns, 1099-Rs, retiree account  

statement (RAS), and Form DD 214 to get a  

larger tax refund. You can just imagine how 

delighted con artists would be to get their  

hands on this type of information.

Similarly, be on your guard if you are  

encouraged by a “veterans benefits specialist”  

to transfer your veterans benefits to another  

person, such as an older relative or a child. It  

may be legal, but the benefits often end up 

invested in high-cost annuities with long  

surrender periods and large penalties if you want 

to change your mind. The person who benefits 

most from these scams is the salesperson.

On Your Guard

A good defense can prevent unwanted surprises that separate you 

from your money.


The bottom line is this:  

Before you act on any pitch, 

especially one linked to  

pension benefits, call the VA 

hotline at 877-294-6380. The more you’re 

pressured to act quickly and not consult 

with anyone else, the more quickly you 

should call the hotline.



veterans HanDBOOK