Establishes theft of veterans’ benefits as criminal offense
Congressman Brian Higgins announced the passage of H.R. 983, the Preventing Crimes Against Veterans Act of 2021, legislation that works to prevent scams aimed at stealing veterans’ benefits.
“Our nation’s veterans have sacrificed everything to serve this country, and their benefits are provided to honor that service,” he said. “This legislation works to protect their right to those benefits by making it a crime for anyone to attempt to steal them.”
Specifically, the bill works to combat in-person scams by establishing that successful or attempted schemes to defraud an individual of their veterans’ benefits are a new criminal offense, one that can carry both a fine, and up to five years in prison.
Veterans concerned they are being targeted in a scam attempting to steal their benefits may report the crime and seek assistance with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) either online at https://reportfraud.ftc.gov/#/ or over the phone at 877-382-4357. If the scam originated online, one may also report it to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) at https://www.ic3.gov/.
For help with applying for veterans’ benefits, veterans can reach out to VA-accredited Veterans Service Organization (VSO) representatives. The representatives provide free-of-charge assistance in understanding and applying for VA benefits including compensation, education, pension, health care and many others.
Veterans service organizations in WNY:
Veterans service organizations located at the Buffalo VA regional office:
Additionally, several VSO’s can be contacted through Veterans One-Stop Center of WNY online or by calling 716-898-0110.
Unlike VSOs, VA-accredited attorneys and agents may charge a fee for their representation in appealing or requesting additional review of an adverse VA decision. Information on challenging a fee can be found https://www.va.gov/OGC/docs/Accred/HowtoChallengeaFee.pdf.
A complete list of VA-accredited attorneys, claims agents, or veterans service organizations can be found at https://www.va.gov/ogc/apps/accreditation/index.asp.
Veterans with additional questions can contact Higgins’ office at 716-852-3501.