Veterans Outreach Center Impersonator: Phone Scam Overview
One of the first Veterans Outreach Centers opened in Rochester, NY in 1973 to help local Vietnam veterans. The Veterans Outreach Center's mission is to provide employment, community service opportunities, housing assistance and other programs for veterans. Many other communities around the country have started their own Veterans Outreach Centers.
Unfortunately, some scammers are impersonating employees of these organizations to take advantage of people that want to help veterans. Aggresive telemarketers will call asking for donations, but none of it ever goes to any veterans. This is one of the most common variations of the charity phone scam.
How the Scam Works
The caller claims to be affiliated with your local Veterans Outreach Center. They say that they are looking for donations to fund new programs and other services for veterans.
Many people wanting to help out will agree to make a donation without questioning the caller.
The caller will then ask for payment in the form of a wire transfer or prepaid debit cards, they could also ask for credit card and bank account information. In another variation, the caller will request that their victim mail cash.
In many cases the scammers will target veterans and their families, knowing that the close personal ties these individuals have to the men and women who have served make them more vulnerable to this scam.
How to Protect Against This Scam
You should always be suspicious when an anonymous caller requests money, even if they claim to be calling on behalf of a charity. Here are some things you need to know to protect yourself from the veteran outreach center scam.
Avoid suspicious payment requests
You should never make a payment over the phone, especially from an unsolicited caller. Never send cash in the mail either.
Insist on making donations through the organization's website or submitting a check to their regional headquarters. The caller won't object if they are legitimate.
Ask for their address
Scammers don't usually share the address of the charity they claim to work at, because they haven't done their research. Some will be better prepared and have this information ready, so don't assume they're necessarily legitimate. However, you can at least filter out some of the scams by requesting this information.
Ask for details on the program
Scam artists often don't know much about the programs they claim to be associated with. One of the best ways to expose them is to request more details. You should immediately be suspicious if they can't provide much information.
Veterans Outreach Centers offers the following types of services:
- Employment and job training
- Housing assistance
- Education benefit counseling
- Financial counseling
- Legal counseling and legal resources
Verify the caller's phone number and information
Run a reverse phone lookup on the number that called you and investigate the charity online. Sites like Charity Navigator allow you to see what percent of donations actually go to programs which will help others.
How to Report the Scam
If you suspect you've been contacted by a Veterans Outreach Center scammer - report the incident to the FTC.
You can also report the phone number via CallerSmart's free reverse phone book app for iPhone and leaving your feedback on a suspected charity scam number. If you don't have an iPhone you can still identify callers by phone number and report scam phone numbers on our website.