If you are a U.S. military veteran, thank you for your service.
Veterans are entitled to certain benefits and protections under the law.
It's those benefits and a steady income that, unfortunately, can make veterans targets for unscrupulous businesses and criminals.
This web page is intended as a general resource for veterans, both to help provide places to turn to for answers and assistance, and to help promote awareness of certain types of scams that veterans may encounter.
Resources for Veterans
County Veterans Offices
County services offices in Iowa may provide assistance to veterans with compensation/pensions, medical care, military records, grave markers and veteran home loans. Some counties may also have dedicated funds to assist with temporary shelter/utilities, food/health supplies, medical/dental, job placement, counseling, and transportation.
For more information about county services offices, go to: https://va.iowa.gov/counties.
Iowa Department of Veterans Affairs
The Iowa Department of Veterans Affairs (IDVA) has benefits specialists, accredited by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, who specialize in federal and state VA benefits and a multitude of other services. The IDVA urges veterans to visit their county office as their first point of contact.
For more information about the Iowa Department of Veterans Affairs, go to: https://va.iowa.gov.
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) provides the millions of American veterans and their dependents with health care services, benefits programs and access to national cemeteries.
For more information about the Department of Veterans Affairs, go to www.va.gov.
Beware of Scams that Target Veterans
For-Profit Education Fraud Targeting GI Bill Benefits
While anyone can fall victim to education fraud, veterans are often targeted. For-profit schools know that many veterans transitioning into civilian life will want to use their GI Bill benefits or federally-guaranteed student loans to gain more education and skills to obtain civilian sector jobs.
Some for-profit institutions will provide misleading information regarding the accreditation of their school, graduation rates, job placement rates, or even the quality of the offered education programs. Veterans may be left with school credits that don't transfer, a degree that is not respected by potential employers, and debts that are difficult to pay off.
To protect yourself from for-profit education fraud:
- Don't allow yourself to be pressured into a quick decision. Take the time to check out and compare schools and programs.
- If the coursework is sought as a step to a degree program in another institution, make sure the credits will transfer.
- Check with potential employers in your field of interest to see if a degree or certificate offered by the school is a useful one.
- If you believe that an institution is misrepresenting itself, contact the Attorney General's Consumer Protection Division.
- The Iowa Department of Education is responsible for approving GI Bill programs in Iowa for veterans and other eligible people. For more information: www.educateiowa.gov/adult-career-and-community-college/veterans-military-education
General Veterans Benefits Fraud
Some veterans and families are contacted by organizations or individuals offering to help veterans obtain their veterans benefits for a fee. Some imply they are a governmental agency or official organization.
Veterans can be assured that there are no fees involved in obtaining veterans benefits. And there are numerous veterans service organizations that will help veterans obtain these benefits for free. A searchable list of VA-accredited representatives, including Veterans Service Organizations, agents, and attorneys, is available here:
http://www.va.gov/ogc/apps/accreditation/index.asp or by calling 800-827-1000.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) provides an informative guide to help veterans spot pension claims fraud, "Veterans' Pensions: Protect Your Money from Poachers."
If you suspect someone is trying to defraud a veteran who lives in Iowa, contact the Attorney General's Consumer Protection Division.
Charging for Military Records, Forms, or Awards
Anyone who tries charge you for military service records for yourself or next-of-kin is attempting to defraud you. Military service records are available for free for veterans and their next-of-kin through the Veterans Administration.
- Request a copy of your Military Service Records - DD214
- Request copies of your Military Medical and Health Records
- How to replace Military Awards, Medals, and Decorations
A "phishing" scam attempts, through trickery, to obtain personal or financial information. Beware of anyone who calls, emails or sends a text message to a veteran, claiming they work for the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and need to update the veteran’s information. Do not provide or “verify” a Social Security Number, banking information, or other personal information.
The VA will NEVER ask you for your sensitive personal information by phone, email, or text message. Hang up or delete such a message (do not click on links), and contact your local VA using a known phone number to check on it.
Veterans Charity Scams
While there are many worthwhile charities that raise money to help veterans, some try to take advantage of the good will people have for veterans--particularly through telemarketing.
Some shady organizations or criminals will pose as a known charity or use a sound-alike name, including the words "Veterans" or "Disabled Veterans," to sound legitimate. They may seek donations and forward little or no money to those you hoped to help, or seek personal information from would-be donors. Know who you are giving money to. Research the organization and don't be afraid to ask for written information. And don't give out personal information to someone you don't know.
If you are a veteran who is a resident of Iowa and you need assistance with a consumer issue, file a complaint or contact our contact our Consumer Protection Division. Be sure to inform us that you're a veteran.