The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has launched a new website to provide resources for veterans and their families and caregivers, as well as servicemembers, to recognize fraud associated with veterans benefits.
The new website provides advice on how veterans can protect themselves and their loved ones, how to locate an accredited representative when seeking assistance in filing for benefits, and how to report scam artists.
During a press conference on Sept. 22, VA leadership said the information also will be shared with veterans during their healthcare appointments and when communicating with VA benefits staff.
“We’re getting this into the hands of our regional office directors, we’re getting this into the hands of our medical center teams, so they can be talking to veterans in very plain language about this,” VA Secretary Denis McDonough said during the press conference.
The PACT Act, which went into effect August of 2022, was the biggest expansion of veteran health care and benefits in decades. By Sept 14 of this year, more than 1 million PACT Act claims had been filed, with more than 550,000 processed and $2.2 billion in earned benefits awarded to veterans and survivors.
“Any time there’s new benefits or new money that’s been allocated to individuals, there’s an opportunity for fraudsters and scamsters to come in,” VA Deputy Chief of Staff Maureen Elias said during the press conference. “What we are seeing is a large increase in unaccredited service reps who are charging veterans to file their initial claim, which is not legal. They’re operating in a gray area, and some of them are charging up to six times whatever a veteran receives in benefits payouts.”