Veterans Disability Info Blog

3 Warning Signs of VA Benefits Scams Targeting Veterans

Navigating the complexities of VA disability benefits can be challenging enough without the added stress of falling victim to a scam. The passage of the PACT Act in 2022 has unfortunately exposed veterans to unaccredited and unqualified individuals who seek to profit off veterans and their families.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) reported over 150,000 complaints of fraud and illegal business practices relating to veterans and their benefits in 2022, resulting in over $414 million in damages. This alarming increase of over 50 percent from the prior year highlights the growing issue of scams targeting veterans.

One common scam that veterans need to beware of is non-attorneys and individuals not accredited by the VA posing as legal authorities and charging veterans money to help them with VA disability benefits claims and VA pension benefits claims. While these individuals may promise to expedite the process or increase the likelihood of approval, the reality is that they are often ill-equipped to provide the necessary assistance.  Often, these individuals prey upon the public’s natural skepticism about lawyers and imply that they have inside information that licensed and regulated providers like attorneys and accredited agents don’t have.

Veterans who fall prey to these scams not only lose the money they paid for services, but also miss out on professional guidance that could significantly improve their claims. Denied VA claims or long delays are common outcomes for veterans who trust their benefits to unqualified individuals.

GUARD Act of 2023

In response to the increase in complaints of fraud and illegal business practices, in April 2023, Senator Joe Manchin introduced the Governing Unaccredited Representatives Defrauding VA Benefits Act of 2023 (GUARD) Act, which seeks to reinstate criminal penalties for the preparation, presentation, and prosecution of VA benefits claims by actors and companies without proper accreditation from the VA. The legislation aims to protect veterans from falling victim to fraudulent practices and ensure they receive the benefits and support they are entitled to.

State of Texas v. VA Claims Insider

In July 2023, the Texas Tribune uncovered such a scheme, with veterans reporting complaints ranging from “slimy car salesman tactics” to outright fraud. This has raised serious concerns about veterans’ vulnerability to fraudulent practices and scams in the benefits claim process.

In December 2023, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton filed a lawsuit against VA Claims Insider, an Austin-based company that purports to assist veterans with their benefits claims. The lawsuit alleges that VA Claims Insider engages in “false, misleading, and deceptive acts and practices” that have harmed thousands of veterans.

According to the lawsuit, VA Claims Insider offers veterans “free” services only to lock them into exorbitant fees for services they cannot provide. The company’s founder, Air Force veteran Brian Reese, denies the allegations.

The case against VA Claims Insider serves as a stark reminder of the importance of caution and vigilance when seeking assistance with VA benefits claims. Veterans must thoroughly research and vet any company or individual offering assistance with their claims to avoid falling prey to scams and fraud. As the legal proceedings against VA Claims Insider unfold, veterans must remain informed and empowered in navigating the complex benefits claim process.

Warning Signs: Our VA Disability Lawyer Discusses How to Spot Veteran Benefits Scams

It is a sad reality that there are individuals and organizations out there who seek to take advantage of our nation’s veterans by peddling scams that promise false benefits or financial assistance. These scams often involve fraudulent promises of increased disability compensation. As a result, veterans must be aware of the warning signs that indicate a potential scam.

1. Guarantee of VA Benefits Amount

One of the first warning signs to watch out for is if someone claims to be able to guarantee a certain amount of benefits or financial assistance. The reality is that the amount of benefits a veteran is entitled to receive depends on various factors, including their service record, disability rating, and other personal circumstances. Therefore, any individual or organization that promises specific benefits should be viewed with skepticism.

2. Request for Up-Front Payment

Another red flag to be aware of is if someone asks for payment in exchange for assistance with applying for benefits or accessing resources. Legitimate organizations that support veterans, such as the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) or VA-accredited legal firms, typically do not charge veterans for their services until after benefits are won. Be wary of anyone who asks for money upfront, as scammers often use this tactic to exploit veterans for financial gain.

3. Faulty Credentials

Additionally, it is essential to only seek assistance from VA-accredited attorneys or advocates when applying for benefits or appealing a decision. These professionals have undergone specific training to assist veterans with their claims and are held to a high standard of ethical conduct. Reputable legal professionals will not make false promises or guarantees and will provide clear and transparent information about the process.

4. Claims of Faster Resolution

These companies often claim that they can resolve veterans’ claims faster, implying that they have a special inside track with the VA.

Spotting veteran benefits scams requires vigilance, skepticism, and a willingness to ask questions. By being aware of the warning signs outlined above and only seeking assistance from a reputable VA disability lawyer, veterans can protect themselves from falling victim to scammers and ensure they receive the benefits and support they deserve.

Remember, if something seems too good to be true, it probably is, so trust your instincts. Trust your instincts and do your research before engaging with any individual or organization offering assistance with your benefits. Your benefits are a vital resource that should be protected and respected, so do not hesitate to reach out to a skilled VA disability lawyer, along with trusted sources, for help when needed.

We are Here to Help

If you are having trouble obtaining benefits, contact us online or at 888.878.9350 to discuss your case.