Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Older Veterans Target of Scams

As the veterans of our country grow older, we have to watch out for each other. The world can be a
harsh and uncaring place for anyone, but it seems to be more so for the elderly.

Older Veterans at community centers, nursing homes and assisted living facilities have become
targets of scam artists. Posing as "veterans advocates" they are making false claims.

By telling the veteran they can get you instant eligibility for additional benefits.

 The veteran is told "if you purchase financial products through us, we'll make you eligible for Department of Veterans Affairs pensions and other benefits" according to Joe Foster, administrator of
Montana's Veteran Affairs Division.

The veteran is told to transfer their retirement assets into an irrevocable trust so that the family appears to be impoverished, thus able to become eligible for a VA pension and other programs that pay additional benefit to veterans who need assistance with day to day living.

The VA may not wonder why you can be rich one day and broke the next, and not check for reasons.
But Medicare will check and if they find you have transferred your money this way it could change
your eligibility for Medicare benefits.

The big problem is that these trusts usually contain annuities and long-term investments, some must be
held for ten years or more before you can begin to collect monthly payments. Often the person does
not live long enough to collect, and guess where the money goes.

Sometimes these investments are explained at a "free lunch" for elderly people. These are usually completely false and another scam, they just take the money and run; leaving those who agreed and signed any papers without a chance of ever seeing their money again.

How to protect yourself if you are a veteran. A few tips: Don't be fooled by official sounding names, sometimes sales agents act as or work with organizations that claim to have a veteran affiliation and thus are tax exempt.
Don't trust the staff at nursing homes or community centers to safeguard you. They may not know
that salesperson is not on the level, and sometimes the homes are paid a fee.
Contact your state or local veterans affairs agency to make sure the offers are legitimate.
Check the agent's record at your state regulatory office.

Jerald Terwilliger
National Chairman
American Cold War Veterans
"We Remember"

---------------- "And so the greatest of American triumphs... became a peculiarly joyless victory. We had won the Cold War, but there would be no parades." -- Robert M. Gates, 1996