Oregon agencies warn veterans of financial scams

Hold first 'Military Consumer Protection Day'

By KTVZ.COM news sources
POSTED: 12:01 PM PDT July 17, 2013 
Central Oregon Guardsoldiers
SALEM, Ore. -

Bogus veterans’ charities, “pension poachers” and other financial threats to members of the military will be the focus of Thursday's first annual Military Consumer Protection Day, the Oregon Department of Justice reported.

The agency is joining the Oregon Department of Veteran’s Affairs and the Oregon National Guard to share tips, information and warnings about the unique financial challenges facing the military community.

"Financial fraud committed against service members or their families directly hinders our readiness.  Military Consumer Protection Day will help educate everyone on the importance of making sound financial decisions." said Major General Raymond F. Rees, Adjutant General, Oregon.

Pension Poachers

Veterans and their families are a target for some dishonest advisers who are claiming to offer free help with pension claims. These individuals try to persuade veterans over 65 to make decisions about their pensions without giving them the whole truth about the long-term consequences.

These pension poachers try to convince veterans to transfer their assets to a trust ­ or to invest in insurance products ­ so they can qualify for “Aid and Attendance” benefits, supplemental assistance available to certain military pensioners. What they don’t reveal is that these transactions could make veterans ineligible for Medicaid benefits and could tie up their money for years.  Adding insult to injury, the advisers charge high fees that range from hundreds to thousands of dollars.

“What’s your best defense against someone who wants to poach your pension to get you a better deal? A firm ‘no, thanks,” said Cameron Smith, director of the Oregon Department of Veteran’s Affairs. 

“Each county has assigned veteran service officers who can assist in applying for Aid and Attendance for free.  They can also help answer any questions about pensions, benefits, or service related claims.”  To find a veteran service office near you call 1-800-692-9666 or

visit www.oregon.gov/odva

Bogus Charities    

                             

Three of the 20 non-profits on the Oregon Department of Justice’s annual list of worst charities purport to serve veterans.

Bogus charities well recognize the value of an emotional sales pitch – be it terminally ill children, injured firefighters or veterans and military families. These bad charities spend virtually all the money they raise on executive compensation and fundraising and only a tiny percentage to their stated charitable mission.

Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum advises: “There are several ways to make sure your donations go to a legitimate charity rather than a greedy scam artist trying to use the distinction of veterans and military families to cash in. The sad fact is, there are people out there who prey on members of the military and veterans who have sacrificed so much for this country.”

To help Oregonians donate confidently to worthy and well-run organizations Attorney General Rosenblum cautions:

Regardless of your status with the military, if you think you have been a victim of a fraud or scam, contact the Oregon Department of Justice online at www.oregonconsumer.gov, by phone at 1-877-877-9392, or by email at help@oregonconsumer.gov.