Veterans, like other consumers, are potential targets for fraudulent, deceptive, or abusive practices. However, veterans and their families are often targeted specifically because of certain circumstances that are unique to them, such as frequent relocations and extended deployments. Additionally, many service members are young individuals with families who find themselves living on their own and earning a paycheck for the first time after leaving the military.
If you believe you’ve been the victim of these deceptive or abusive consumer practices, you should contact an experienced Ohio consumer protection lawyer who can help you assert your rights and put a stop to the harassment you may be experiencing.
Unfair Debt Collection Practices on Veterans
Some abuses that veterans may fall prey to are unfair debt collection practices, especially if they only recently separated from military service. According to the Federal Trade Commission, the highest volume of consumer complaints that they receive from military consumers are debt collection complaints. Additionally, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) states that in 2015, service members submitted debt collection complaints at nearly twice the rate as compared to civilian consumers.
According to the CFPB, veterans often complain about attempts to collect a debt that they believe they don’t owe. These debts often stem from medical bills that veterans believed would be covered by their veteran health insurance or Medicare/Medicaid. These debt collectors are still held accountable by the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) and are prohibited from using unfair debt collection practices. Debt collectors cannot engage in practices such as false threats of litigation or arrest, or false claims of being a law enforcement agency. Additionally, veterans may face challenges when it comes to verifying a debt owed and the current owner of the debt, as it may have been sold to a third-party debt collector.
Veterans’ Pension Scams
Another deceptive consumer practice that veterans are susceptible to is pension scams. These scams often target veterans by offering to provide unscrupulous pension advice. This involves transferring pension assets to a trust or a particular insurance product that may mean the loss of eligibility for Medicaid services or inability to access money for an extended period of time. These pension advisers often charge veterans hundreds to thousands of dollars in fees for their services. Advisers often try to persuade or coerce veterans over 65 years old to make quick decisions about pensions without providing them with all the information regarding long-term consequences of such decisions.
These so-called advisers often claim to be veterans’ advocates and offer to help veterans get enhanced pension benefits with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). To qualify for these enhanced benefits, the advisers will try to convince veterans to restructure their finances by selling them annuities or creating a trust. However, the VA accredits professionals to help veterans complete and file pension claims, and these accredited individuals are not allowed to charge people for completing and submitting forms.
Contact an Ohio Consumer Protection Attorney to Protect Your Rights
If you are a veteran and you believe you have been subjected to unfair debt collection practices, the FDCPA provides you with protection against collectors. You may be able to put a stop to the collector’s harassment by filing suit in state court or filing a complaint with federal and state consumer protection agencies.
Contact the experienced consumer law attorneys at Luftman, Heck & Associates for assistance with your case. Our knowledgeable and compassionate attorneys can help protect your consumer rights against anyone trying to take advantage of you.