Phone scam warning for veterans
(New York- WABC, May 26, 2006) (WABC) -- There's a warning tonight from the Department of Veteran Affairs about a possible scam. It could be related to that theft of personal records of 26.5 million vets announced earlier this week.
Reporter Sarah Wallace has exclusive details.
This is a really important warning. The bottom line to veterans or their spouses is to beware of anyone calling you on the phone who claims to be from veteran affairs trying to get your personal information.
Leonard Biddle, Vietnam Veteran: "I got suspicious right away because you're not giving me any personal identification, you're just saying you're from the VA."
It was just yesterday that Vietnam Veteran Leonard Biddle received a phone call at his Bronx apartment.
Leonard Biddle, Vietnam Veteran: "'I'm calling from the VA and we need to update your financial records.'"
Biddle, a disabled former Air force mechanic, says he recently updated his VA records. He became even more suspicious ...
Leonard Biddle, Vietnam Veteran: "She asked for my social security, she wanted to know my mother's maiden name."
Fortunately Biddle had seen our story Monday about the theft of of millions of veterans' personal records from the computer of a VA employee. He flagged us about his phone call.
Leonard Biddle, Vietnam Veteran: "That's one of the reasons I contacted your station because I said 'this sounds suspicious and if they've done it to me I don't think they've singled me out of the millions of veterans in the city to decide to call."
We checked with the Department of Veteran Affairs, which is now issuing a nationwide warning with this message: "The VA would not call any veteran seeking to verify or elicit specific personal information. That's not our policy."
A spokesman emphasizes veterans are being sent letters advising them of the potential risk from the identity theft and how to take precautions.
Leonard Biddle worries about vets who may not be as questioning as he was.
Leonard Biddle, Vietnam Veteran: "If they hear anything from the VA, they're probably going to answer without questioning, without any thought about it and that's scary."
Clearly a lot of veterans are concerned about the identity theft issue. The VA says as of noon Friday more than 120,000 vets have called their special hotline which was set up to answer questions.
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