Today is Veterans Day and your BBB would like to share a bit of history about Veterans Day and some important services the BBB offers to military personnel and veterans, and information on schemes that target service members and veterans.
First, a bit of history. Originally called Armistice Day, it began on November 11, 1919, the first anniversary of the end of World War I. In 1926 it became an annual observance, and in 1938 it became a national holiday. Veterans Day is a day we pay tribute to all American veterans living or dead but especially to living veterans who served our country with honor during war or peacetime.
Next, information about BBB services for military personnel and veterans.
BBB has developed MobileMi$$ion, a mobile app for transitioning military personnel. The press release regarding the new app can be found here.
BBB Military Line consumer education program was developed by the BBB Institute of Marketplace Trust, the educational foundation of the Council of Better Business Bureaus and a nonprofit 501©(3) organization.
Through BBB Military Line and BBB web-based and mobile technology endeavors, BBBs seek to equip those who serve, have served, and their families with the tools they need to navigate an ever changing and often complex marketplace.
Trusted Scout is a free monthly e-newsletter published by BBB Military Line containing timely topics on military and veterans’ consumer issues. To sign up, click here.
At a local level, your BBB offers a guest speaker program available to speak to military groups regarding scams and fraud targeting active and transitioning military personnel and veterans.
Unfortunately, military personnel and veterans are often targets of unscrupulous business practices and scams. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recently wrote a blog on such a scheme which involves people offering free phones and cell service for veterans through a government program.
However, according to the press release “free” might end up costing consumers a lot of money. What happens is that months after veterans sign up for the program, they receive notices saying they need to provide personal information and documents to prove they meet the income requirements. Many veterans find that their incomes are too high to qualify for the ‘free” program and face losing service or paying for something they thought would be free.
There is a government program called Lifeline that offers free or discounted phone service. The program is based on income and is available to all consumers who meet the income guidelines. To find information on this program, visit www.lifelinesupport.org. If you are a veteran who doesn’t qualify for the Lifeline program, the FTC suggests contacting your phone service provider to see if they offer any discounts for veterans.
Another blog written by Carol Kando-Pineda, Counsel, FTC’s Division of Consumer & Business Education, warns veterans of “scammers trying to bilk their benefits.”
In one scam, according to Kando-Pineda “unscrupulous advisers claim to offer free help with paperwork for pension claims. But these attorneys, financial planners, and insurance agents persuade veterans over 65 to make decisions about their pensions without giving them the whole truth about the long-term consequences. They tell veterans to transfer their assets to a trust – or to invest in insurance products – so they can qualify for Aid and Attendance benefits.” They don’t tell veterans, however, that the transaction could cause them to lose eligibility for Medicaid services or the use of their money for a long time.
In another scheme, some companies offer what’s called a pension advance in which veterans sign over their monthly pension checks for a period of time, often 5 or 10 years, in exchange for a lump sum payment of a smaller amount. According to Kando-Pineda, fees on these advances can be quite high, and these companies often require veterans to purchase a life insurance policy with the pension advance company as the beneficiary.
We encourage our readers who have family members who are in the military or who are veterans to spread the word about these scams and schemes to help them avoid a bad deal.
And last, but certainly not least, the staff and administrators here at your BBB wish to express our pride in our veterans for their patriotism, love of country, willingness to serve, and for the sacrifices they have made to keep us safe.
For more information you can trust, visit bbb.org/evansville.