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Military veterans should be on alert for scammers attempting to steal their pensions, the Pennsylvania Department of Military and Veterans Affairs announced earlier this month.

Pension poaching is a scam through which third parties, including corrupt financial planners, charges veterans or their beneficiaries to apply for VA pensions and other benefits.

Usually, third parties advise veterans to hide assets in trusts or annuity products, or charge fees to help military veterans complete their VA pension applications.

“Older veterans are a prime target for scammers,” Joel Mutschler, director DMVA Bureau of Veterans Programs, Initiatives, Reintegration, and Outreach, said in a news release. “As we approach World Elder Abuse Awareness Day on June 15, it is important to remind veterans and their advocates to be vigilant when dealing with their benefits, and make sure to always use the free assistance of an accredited veteran service officer.”

Veterans and their advocates are encouraged to never share VA login information or deposit benefits directly into a third-party bank account, unless the account holder is court-appointed or the account is a veterans affairs-accredited trust.

Mutschler said veterans and their advocates should never pay to submit forms for applications. If a third party suggests restructuring assets to qualify for benefits, or receiving a lump sum pension payment, the transaction may be a scam.

County veterans affairs offices and other service organizations are available to help veterans and their beneficiaries navigate the pension system. Any victim of a veterans pension poaching scam is asked to call 717-783-1944 or email pavets@attorneygeneral.gov. Complaints may be filed online at www.attorneygeneral.gov.

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