On Independence Day many of us think about our veterans and the sacrifices they and their families have made for our nation. Unfortunately some scam artists are so warped that they target our veterans for identity theft and other scams.
A recent post from the New Jersey Office of Consumer Affairs described a recent identity theft scam targeting veterans.
“Veterans receive a phone call from a fraudster posing as a representative of the Department of Veterans Affairs, DFAS, or a Veterans Affairs Hospital. Veterans then are asked to provide personal information, including social security number, in order to ‘update their files.’”
Legitimate health care providers and facilities will never call or e-mail a veteran and ask for sensitive personal information such as a social security number, Medicare number or a financial account number. Veterans and their family members should hang up on such calls and delete any e-mails seeking that type of information.
The New Jersey Office of Consumer Affairs also noted a “Phishing Scheme” targeting active-duty military.
“Cyber criminals are attempting to pose as members of the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command (‘CID’) or some other military investigative organization, and are e-mailing members of the military or their families, telling them that they have discovered supposedly fraudulent activities with a company the victim had contact with. These criminals then ask the victims to provide personal information so these 'investigators' can determine whether a person’s identity or financial security has been ‘compromised.’”
No law enforcement agency, civilian or military will ever call or e-mail seeking personal information to 'check out' a potential crime. Members of the military and their families sacrifice so much for us, but scam artists will take advantage of any opportunity and have no scruples when it comes to who they target.
Finally, in 2016 Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller announced that his office was taking additional action to help veterans who are victims of consumer scams such as identity theft. Today, the forms used by Iowans to complain to his office include a spot to indicate if the individual is a veteran or active duty military. His office website also has a link: (www.iowaattorneygeneral.gov/for-consumers/for-veterans-and-service-members/) to specific advice for veterans and active duty military to help them learn to avoid scams. In addition a volunteer and Vietnam War veteran assists with consumer complaints and inquiries specifically from service members and veterans.
A new state law became effective July 1, 2018 in Iowa that permits consumers to 'freeze' their credit reports at no cost.
Before this new law, Iowans had to pay each of the three major credit reporting agencies $10 to freeze their credit reports and another $12 to temporarily suspend the freeze if they wished to apply for credit, for a total of $66.00.
Iowa’s law also permitted companies to each charge up to $10 for permanently removing a credit freeze. The new law does away with all those fees and permits any Iowan to place, suspend or remove a credit freeze at no charge.
Often called a credit security freeze, the effect is to bar new creditors from seeing your credit report and credit score. Consumers may want to freeze their credit reports for several reasons, including to prevent someone else from applying for credit cards or loans in their names. Placing a credit freeze also helps prevent others from using a consumer’s name to apply for a job or rent a home or apartment.
The core purpose of placing a credit freeze is to prevent identity theft. Before this new law, a person had to become a victim of identity theft to freeze your credit at no charge. Iowa’s new law is similar to a new federal law that will become effective later this year.
However freezing your credit doesn’t prevent all forms of identity fraud.
Even if a credit freeze is in place, scam artists may still try to make charges on your existing accounts so it’s still important to check your credit card bills closely every month. Freezing your credit also doesn’t stop credit card offers from coming in the mail.
Consumers who freeze their credit reports, but later wish to apply for credit will have to contact the credit reporting agencies in order to lift the credit freezes which is also now free to consumers.
This page was produced by the Iowa Organization for Victim Assistance under award #2016-XV-GX-K004, awarded by the Office for Victims of Crime, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice. The opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this website are those of the contributors and do not necessarily represent the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.