It’s easy to accidentally hit a wrong number when dialing, and usually it doesn’t lead to anything worse than an awkward conversation if someone picks up. But the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is now warning against a scam aimed at people who misdial the number for a healthcare program for veterans.
VA says scammers have set up a phone line that only differs from the real number for the Veterans Choice Program in the area code: The correct Choice Program number 1-866-606-8198. The imposter phone line is mostly the same number, but starting with “1-800” instead of “1-866.”
When veterans call that wrong number, scammers give them some ostensibly good news — they’re eligible for a $100 rebate… if they provide a credit card number.
“Just for calling today, you’re entitled to a rebate of $100,” an automated greeting says. “Or, you could just hang up!”
That’s a clear sign that it’s a scam: VA says it will never ask veterans for that kind of information or push these kinds of financial incentives through the Choice Program phone line. Instead, the real phone line offers information about the program, including eligibility criteria.
You’ll know you’ve reached the right phone number if the line automatically informs the caller that they have reached the “U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs,” VA says. The fake line doesn’t say anything about Veterans Affairs right away, but scammers will tell callers that they’ve reached the “Veterans Choice Program” if they ask.
If you’re not sure which line you’ve just called, hang up and call the correct 1-866-606-8198 number.
“This potential attempt to impersonate VA’s Veterans Choice Program phone line is being taken very seriously,” the department says, adding that it’s working with the Office of Inspector General to take legal action and get the fake phone line shut down.