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Defensive measures

Initiative safeguards veterans from fraud

New scams against veterans have emerged during the coronavirus pandemic.

The Postal Inspection Service is marking Military Appreciation Month in May by promoting Operation Protect Veterans, a joint campaign with the AARP Fraud Watch Network aimed at stopping scams against current and former service members.

The coronavirus pandemic has ushered in swindles involving stimulus checks, unemployment insurance, fake COVID-19 cures and more. These scams are in addition to the familiar veteran-focused cons involving identity theft, phishing, charity schemes, investment scams and loan deceptions.

“The Postal Service is proud to be one of the nation’s top employers of veterans. We owe it to them — and to all of our nation’s veterans — to do our best to protect them from criminals and con artists,” said Postal Inspector Carroll Harris, a Marine Corps vet.

In the five-year period that ended in 2019, fraud cost veterans, active service members and their families more than $338 million, according to the Federal Trade Commission.

Here are steps veterans and others can take to mitigate their risk of falling prey to fraud:

• Don’t give any personal information over the phone to someone who contacts you. This includes bank account numbers, credit card numbers and your Social Security number.

• Don’t be pressured into acting immediately.

• Double check references and verify that businesses and others who contact you are who they claim to be before you provide any personal information.

• Contact your telephone service provider and ask what kind of services they offer to help block unwanted calls.

More information about scams targeting military veterans is available online from the Inspection Service and AARP.

If you believe you or a veteran you know may have been an unwitting participant in a scam, help protect others by reporting it. Contact your local police, AARP at or 877-908-3360, and the Postal Inspection Service at or 877-876-2455.