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Marketing company defrauding veterans

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David A Anderson, Wadena County Veteran Service officer

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A marketing company has acquired and is using two toll-free numbers which are very similar to Veterans Benefit Administration (VBA) toll-free numbers. The marketer is trying to get callers to sign up to receive a Walmart gift card and is asking for personal identification information (PII), to include credit card information. When asked if they are the VA, they reply vaguely, and explain that the VA is very busy and the call was directed to them. They don't say they are the VA, but if asked if they can help with VA benefits, they say yes. In addition, they even offer to transfer the call to the VA, after the caller provides the credit card information to get the free Walmart gift card.

This issue has been reported to the Office of the Inspector General and the Federal Trade Commission for review.

The two numbers identified in this alert are:

• 1-800-872-1000 which is very close to our main number of 1-800-827-1000

• 1-888-442-4511 which is very close to our GI-Bill number of 1-888-442-4551

Frequently asked questions and answers.

Q1. What should we tell a veteran if he/she asks if this is a legitimate offer?

A: "The VA is not participating in any gift card promotions. We have been advised of this situation and have referred the issue to our Office of the Inspector General and have filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission. Please use caution when disclosing personal information as it could be a fraudulent situation."

Q2. Is the va researching this issue or attempting to take action against the company?

A: "The VA has reported this issue to the Office of the Inspector General and filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission. They will be reviewing the situation to determine the appropriate course of action."

Q3. What should we tell someone if they have mistakenly released their PII in this situation?

A: "The VA has reported this issue to the Office of the Inspector General and filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission. They will be reviewing the situation to determine the appropriate course of action. If you feel you have disclosed your personal information to an unauthorized individual, please contact your credit card company and advise them of the situation, review transactions, and request that a new card number be issued. You may request a free credit report from credit reporting agencies. In addition, you should also contact the FTC at 1-877-382-4357 and file a complaint."

Q4. I called this company. How can I file a complaint?

A: "Thank you for reporting this information to VA, you can contact the FTC at 1-877-382-4357 and file a complaint."

As always please see your local County Veterans Service Officer if you have any questions. You can contact your local VSO at (218) 631-7617 or by email at david.anderson@co.wadena.mn.us and as always have a great week.

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