NEWARK – As the nation prepares to celebrate Veterans Day, Attorney General Christopher S. Porrino and the Division of Consumer Affairs today launched their new “Defending Our Heroes” anti-fraud initiative aimed at protecting veterans and active-duty services members from a host of scams targeting them and their families.
“We owe an enormous debt of gratitude to the veterans who put their lives on the line to defend us and our country,” said Attorney General Porrino. “Today New Jersey is returning the favor by rolling out our ‘Defending Our Heroes’ program designed to protect these brave men and women from shameless con artists looking to steal the money they’ve earned for their patriotic services.”
New Jersey is home to approximately 413,000 veterans and 7,500 active-duty service members, all of them in the cross-hairs of fraudsters trying to swindle them out of their steady government incomes. Veterans are under constant siege by scammers and identity thieves who exploit their goodwill and patriotism to lure them in as financial victims. Active-duty service members are also prime targets for con artists who take advantage of their lengthy absences from home and frequent relocations to prey on them and their families.
“New Jersey veterans and active members of the military deserve to be treated with respect for the sacrifices they’ve made, not relentlessly targeted as easy marks to be financially exploited,” said Steve Lee, Director of the Division of Consumer Affairs. “We’ve launched the ‘Defending Our Heroes’ initiative to arm them with the information they need to fight back, because education and awareness are the keys to combating fraud.”
The “Defending Our Heroes” program combines online information, public outreach, and educational materials to promote awareness of financial fraud targeting military service members.
The “Defending Our Heroes” web page, located within the Division of Consumer Affairs website, serves as an informational hub detailing the various schemes and scams targeting veterans and enlisted personnel, and provides tips on how to avoid them. The site warns of “military discount scams” that offer service members special pricing on a variety of items from loans to vehicles, then dupe them out of hefty “upfront fees.” The site also cautions against scam phone calls seeking donations to bogus charities allegedly supporting veterans and their families, and against con artists posing as Veterans Affairs representatives who trick victims into divulging personal information that can be used to steal their identities.
To further raise awareness of military-related fraud, the Division will present public education programs to veterans groups and enlisted personnel around the state. “Defending Our Heroes” educational materials will also be available for public dissemination.
The “Defending Our Heroes” anti-fraud campaign is the Division’s latest initiative targeting services to veterans.
To promote vocational opportunities for veterans, the Division is an active participant in New Jersey’s “Boots to Business Reboot” workshops, which provide free entrepreneurship training and advice to veterans interested in starting, expanding, or purchasing a small business. Co-sponsored by the New Jersey Small Business Development Centers, The American Legion, and the U.S. Small Business Administration, the Boots to Business workshops feature advice from experts from veterans outreach centers and business counseling services across the state, including representatives from the Division who educate veterans on the laws and regulations governing small businesses in New Jersey.
Additionally, many of the professional and occupational boards within the Division give credit towards substantially equivalent training, experience and education received while serving in the Armed Forces. Many of the boards also provide nonresident military spouses with pathways to practice their profession while in New Jersey through a temporary courtesy license, or through a license by endorsement or reciprocity.
The “Defending Our Heroes” web page can be accessed at www.njconsumeraffairs.gov/military.
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