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FCC reports that US veterans are being targeted in elaborate benefits scams


What to look for

Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images

The Federal Communications Commission said this week that U.S. veterans across the country are receiving fraudulent phone calls from scammers purporting to be veterans services.

What are the details?

Citing multiple reports from New York and Minnesota, the FCC warned that scammers are trying to gain access to vets' financial and personal information by offering up fraudulent benefits to obtain home loans.

The callers, sometimes automated, reportedly manipulate their caller ID telephone numbers in order to appear legitimate. This is called "caller ID spoofing," which the FCC defines as "when a caller deliberately falsifies the information transmitted to your caller ID display to disguise their identity."

"Scammers often use neighbor spoofing so it appears that an incoming call is coming from a local number, or spoof a number from a company or a government agency that you may already know and trust," the commission said. "If you answer, they use scam scripts to try to steal your money or valuable personal information, which can be used in fraudulent activity."

The commission notes that scammers are now often leaving messages with authentic-sounding scripts such as "Your VA profile was flagged for two potential benefits to the changes in the VA program. These are time-sensitive entitlements. Please call us back at your earliest convenience."

When veterans call back, they are prompted to verify their personal identifying information, and encouraged to divulge private financial information in order to qualify for the new "benefit."

U.S. Air Force Veteran John Fantauzzi told KARE-TV that he frequently receives such calls.

"I was kind of concerned that this was a phishing or some kind of scam call," Fantauzzi told the station. "So, I called the VA and asked them to check and see if there was any issues regarding my benefits, and they told me that there was nothing in my records to indicate any issues with anything."

What is recommended to avoid this?

The FCC recommends to avoid engaging with such callers.

"If you get a call that offers any of the above 'services,' hang up immediately," the commission advises. "If you get a voice message, write down the callback number and contact law enforcement to report the scam. Also, file a complaint with the FCC at consumercomplaints.fcc.gov."

You can read more about what some of the scammers are doing here and here.

Spoofing: Don't Hang On, Hang Upwww.youtube.com

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