According to a new report by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), there is a new telephone scam being deployed that targets U.S. military veterans looking to verify their eligibility for the new Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Veterans Choice Program (VCP).
In order to rip-off vets, scammers have set up a fake toll-free number that resembles the true government Veterans Choice hotline to collect credit card numbers.
“Scammers have set up a phony telephone line that very closely resembles the VCP’s real telephone number,” according to the FTC report. “Con artists often use names, seals and logos that look or sound like those of respected, legitimate organizations. This time they’re using a phone number that’s almost identical to the real thing, counting on creating confusion.”
The FTC laid out how the scam works.
“You call and think you’ve reached the VCP. The fake line’s message says you’re entitled to a rebate if you provide a credit card number,” the report explained. “But if you give up your account information, they’ll debit your account and you’ll get nothing in return. There is no rebate and you’ll need to cancel your credit card.”
Veterans looking to check their eligibility for the VCP are urged to make sure they call the correct number, which is 866-606-8198.
The FTC reminds vets that if they call and they’re unsure, it’s better to hang up and double check the website for the correct number.
In April, President Donald Trump signed a bill to extend the pilot of the VCP. The law allows veterans to seek care at private hospitals and doctors instead of their local VA clinics and hospitals.