Phone scammers target VA health care program

FILE - The Veterans Affairs Hospital in Fort Wayne, Ind.

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – The Department of Veterans Affairs is warning military veterans about a phone scam targeting people who call the Veterans Choice Program hotline.

The correct number for the program is (866) 606-8198.

But if someone makes the simple mistake of dialing 1-800, the scammers go to work. A misleading recording tells the caller they are eligible for a retail rebate of $100.

The catch: the caller must provide credit card information. Except instead of getting $100, the person will get a fraudulent charge.

The VA said it would never ask for financial information on the phone or provide a financial incentive to sign up for a program.

The Veterans Choice Program provides military veterans an opportunity to get health care in the their community instead of scheduling an appointment or traveling to a VA hospital.

The VA said veterans will know if they reach the correct hotline because the prerecorded message states, “You have reached the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.” The incorrect line will tell callers they have reached the “Veterans Choice Program.”

The VA also provides an identity theft hotline:

In addition, the VA Identity Safety Service offers a toll-free identity theft help line to Veterans and their beneficiaries who believe that they are at risk for identity theft. The number is 1-855-578-5492, and it operates Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. EST with voicemail for after-hours calls. Any calls pertaining directly to VA data are referred to VA staff and investigated accordingly. Find out more about how you can protect yourself from identity theft at VA’s More Than A Number: Identity Theft Protection website.

Remember, the Veterans Choice Program is 866 not 800.