VA Director Warns of Scam

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CLEARFIELD – Yesterday, Director of Veterans Affairs Betina Nicklas alerted the Clearfield County Commissioners and local residents about a scam in which individuals pose as military service members from overseas.

Last week, a local resident reported being the victim of such a scam to Nicklas. The victim, she said, received an e-mail from someone posing as a military service member who couldn’t come home on leave from overseas.

The victim, she said, sent money to a few locations to help the service member. She said scammers are using the identities of actual military service members and making simple changes to their identifying information, such as transposing their name and or rank.

“It is the little things like that,” said Nicklas. “And, these are things that the person receiving the e-mail wouldn’t just pick up on. It’s not a legitimate e-mail; there isn’t a need for any military service person to ask for money in this manner.”

Nicklas said anyone who has been a victim of such a scam can contact the Better Business Bureau or their local police department. Commissioner Mark B. McCracken added that almost any e-mail originating from someone overseas is a scam and residents should “stay away” from them.

In other business, the Veterans Affairs Department has issued new healthcare cards for veterans. The VA will start issuing the new cards in April, said Nicklas.

According to her, the new healthcare cards will have updated security features to protect veterans. The new healthcare cards, she said, will not any longer contain veterans’ Social Security number and date of birth in the card’s magnetic strip.

Nicklas explained that anyone using a smartphone bar code app can scan the current veterans’ healthcare cards and acquire the cardholder’s Social Security number. The new veterans’ healthcare cards, she said, will have identification numbers that aren’t in any way associated with the cardholder’s Social Security number.

Veterans can still use their current healthcare cards for three years. However, any veteran wishing to switch to the new healthcare card can do so by visiting any veterans’ healthcare facility, including the one in DuBois, said Nicklas.

Nicklas said veterans now have the opportunity to put a designation of their military service on their Pennsylvania driver’s license or photo identification card. PennDOT, she said, has already started accepting applications for the new driver’s license/ID cards with the special veterans designation.

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