DES MOINES, Iowa -- The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is issuing a new warning to all veterans on how to avoid a national scam.
The scam is an old but effective one. Criminals have set up a mimic hotline, that similar to a Veterans eligibility hotline, to lure vets into giving up credit card information.
“The VA of Central Iowa has been made aware, thru national levels, that there is the possibility of a mimic phone line,” said Brant Quick, Veteran Affairs of Central Iowa.
The program these scammers are targeting is a real program, called Veterans Choice. The program helps vets offset the costs of out of network health care. In order to find out if they are eligible, they need to call into a hotline and this is where the scammers strike.
“So that when a veteran calls the Veterans Choice Program, to see if he is eligible for services, if he missed dialed incorrectly the phone line may pick up his call,” said Quick.
The mistake is simple and many of us make it everyday, just dialing a wrong number. So here is how the scam works. The criminals set up a mimic of fake phone hotline, that is similar to the real number. When a veterans calls the fake number,it sounds reals. It will then offer them a $100 rebate If they enter in a credit card number.
“If they are offered a $100 credit to one of their credit cards that’s also a dead give away,” said Quick.
The VA is aware of the scam and is working to shut it down. In the meantime, here is how you can avoid it. It starts with dialing the right number, 1-866-606-8198. The key is 1-866. Once, connected, a male voice will identify as the the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. While on the line ask questions, and if at any time, you think it’s fishy, hang-up. Then double check the number and dial again. Here's the kicker, the VA will never ask for a credit card over the phone, never!
“Absolutely not, that would never happen. No, nothing that the VA is going to ask for, never any of that kind of information over the phone. So if there is any information regarding financial information absolutely not,” said Quick.