Scammers will use any information they have about you to trick you into the heist. The FTC just released information on a new scam preying on veterans who are making decisions about their medical care. If you use the Veterans Choice Program, this scam could affect you.
The Veterans Choice Program (VCP) is an initiative of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). It’s a new, temporary benefit that allows eligible vets to receive health care in their communities, rather than waiting for a VA appointment or traveling to a VA facility. Veterans and their families can call the VCP’s toll-free number (1-866-606-8198) to qualify. Here’s where the scam comes in: Scammers have set up a phony telephone number that closely resembles the Veterans Choice Program’s real number.
The fake line has a recorded message for incoming callers who may have unsuspectingly dialed the wrong number. You call, thinking you’ve reached the VCP, and are greeted with a fake message that says you’re entitled to a rebate if you provide a credit card number. If you give up your account information, they’ll debit your card and leave you with nothing in return. There’s no rebate, just a scammer with your card number and the unfortunate errand of canceling and replacing your card.
If you’re a veteran, or you help a veteran with health care, here’s what you need to know:
- The official number for the Veterans Choice Program is 1-866-606-8198. Click through the number on the website on your phone to ensure you’re calling the correct one. If you’re not sure you’ve reached the VCP, hang up, check the number, and try again.
- The VA – or any government agency, for that matter – will never ask for your financial account information. If you hear a message requesting that, it’s a major red flag! Hang up.
The VA also has set up an identity theft prevention program specifically for veterans, with an ID theft help line. Check out the “More Than a Number” website and share this information with the veterans in your life. If you or someone you know has been a victim of identity theft, report it to the FTC at IdentityTheft.gov.