This month is Military Family Appreciation Month and while we recognize the military men and women who have served and are currently serving in the line of duty, we take the time to honor the heroes besides the hero; the family members. Military families oftentimes can become victims of targeted military family scams while the service member is away. It is important that military veterans, family and friends be aware of potential scams, even as the world endures the COVID-19 pandemic.
Many military families are unware of the civil legal rights they have as the supporters of their service member loved one.
Common Military Family and Veteran Scams
Illegally targeting military veterans is a very common endeavor for scammers looking to make money and steal identities. Military Family Appreciation Month helps raise awareness within active duty and veteran communities on how they are twice as likely as civilians to be targeted by con artists. According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), there have been over 20,300 COVID-19 complaints carrying an estimated $15.6 million in losses since the start of 2020. Scammers have taken advantage of the pandemic to target those in military uniform by placing ads for fake COVID-19 treatment, creating fake charity pitches, identity scams, financial scams, and even Veterans Administration (VA) benefits.
Here are a few of the most common scams.
- Veterans are told they qualify for money from “secret” government programs but must first pay a fee or provide personal information.
- Scammers exploit veterans in financial duress by offering cash upfront in exchange for (much higher) future disability or pension payments.
- Con artists attempt to charge veterans for access to their service records or for government forms. Veterans can get this material for free from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) or the National Archives.
- Bogus military charities service members for donations while their intentions are solely for profit.
By working together and using the phrase “spot a scam, stop a scam,” veterans and military families can safely and confidently serve and protect their loved ones and their country.
The Houston metro area is home to the nation’s second-largest veteran population and Texas’ largest. Since 1948, Lone Star Legal Aid has been focused on serving this community and now has a dedicated unit located at Combined Arms. LSLA’s Military & Veterans Unit (MVU) provides free civil legal services to low-income US military veterans, their dependents, and surviving spouses throughout the state of Texas.
LSLA was recently awarded an emergency grant to expand its military and veteran services to all of Texas. The MVU can help with the following civil legal issues.
- Veterans Benefits;
- Expunctions & Non-Disclosures;
- Custody & Child Support;
- Consumer Issues;
- Divorce & Family Issues;
- Medicare & Medicaid; and
- Wills & Probate.
Who can receive help?
- You have served in the US military; or
- If you are married to a veteran or a surviving spouse of a veteran; or
- If you are the child or other dependent of a veteran and currently depend on the veteran for support; and
- Your legal problem is a civil issue; and
- You live within LSLA’s service area; and
- You meet low-income-and-asset-based criteria.
How can I apply to LSLA for legal assistance?
- Call our toll-free statewide hotline – 1-844-400-VETS (8387);
- Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org; or
- Apply online at www.lonestarlegal.org.
- Applying in person is not available at this time due to COVID-19.
You will need to provide us with a copy of the veterans DD-214 or a military or dependent ID card to verify veteran connections or status. If you do not have a copy of the veterans DD-214, we can help you get one for free.
Learn more about what MVU does to help Texas’ veteran community here.
Lone Star Legal Aid is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit law firm focused on advocacy on behalf of low-income and underserved populations. Lone Star Legal Aid serves millions of people at 125% of federal poverty guidelines that reside in 72 counties in the eastern and Gulf Coast regions of Texas, and 4 counties of southwest Arkansas. Lone Star Legal Aid focuses its resources on maintaining, enhancing, and protecting income and economic stability; preserving housing; improving outcomes for children; establishing and sustaining family safety and stability, health and well‐being; and assisting populations with special vulnerabilities, like those who have disabilities, or who are elderly, homeless, or have limited English language skills. To learn more about Lone Star Legal Aid, visit our website at http://www.lonestarlegal.org. Media contact: Media@lonestarlegal.org