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Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul
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November 8, 2019

ATTORNEY GENERAL RAOUL ENCOURAGES VETERANS TO UNDERSTAND THEIR RIGHTS

Chicago — Attorney General Kwame Raoul today honored the service of Illinoisí veterans and encouraged veterans and active duty service members to contact his office to access resources and better understand their rights. Raoul also urged veterans to be vigilant for scams related to their service.

The Illinois Service Member Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (ISERRA), which went into effect Jan. 1, was initiated by the Attorney Generalís office to strengthen and simplify state laws designed to provide employment protections to service members. The law also created the position of an ISERRA Advocate within the Attorney Generalís office to provide training, information to employers and service members, and to enforce the act. Raoul is encouraging veterans and active duty service members who have questions to contact his Military and Veterans Rights Helpline at 1-800-382-3000 or 1-800-964-3013 (TTY).

ďThe men and women who have served in the military, along with their families, have made tremendous sacrifices to serve our nation and protect our freedom,Ē Raoul said. ďWe honor them on Veterans Day and every day. I am committed to protecting the rights of our nationís veterans and military service members and am expanding my officeís Military and Veterans Rights Bureau in order to better serve them and ensure these brave men and women receive the benefits they deserve.Ē

Raoulís Military and Veterans Rights Bureau handles a wide variety of financial and legal concerns affecting the military and veterans, such as military employment rights, housing, consumer fraud, and scams connected with benefits provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). According to a 2017 AARP study, nearly 80 percent of the veterans surveyed reported being targeted by scams related to their service. Raoul cautioned veterans that it could be a scam if they are approached or contacted by someone who claims to be:

  • Raising funds for military charities.
  • Offering to refinance VA loans.
  • Offering cash upfront in exchange for future disability or pension payments.
  • Telling veterans they qualify for money from government programs if they pay a fee or provide personal information.
  • Attempting to charge for military records or government forms.

Veterans and service members are often targeted with phishing scams in which a scammer claims to be a VA official and asks for personal information such as a Social Security number or banking information, saying they need to update the veteranís records. Beginning last week, nationwide consumer reporting agencies are required to provide free electronic credit monitoring services for active duty service members and National Guard members, which can help them spot identity theft, should they fall victim to this type of scam. In addition to signing up for those services, Attorney General Raoul encourages veterans and service members to be vigilant, monitor all financial account statements and sign up for account alerts when a transaction over a certain amount occurs.

Attorney General Raoul has been committed to holding individuals accountable for taking advantage of veterans and veteransí charities in order to make a profit. In February, Raoulís office entered a consent decree with the American Association for Wartime Veterans, Atlantis Marketing Solutions, Mary Lou Schneider, and James Cauthorn over allegations the defendants misrepresented eligibility requirements for VA pension benefit programs in order to coerce veterans into purchasing financial products they did not need to qualify for the VA pension benefit program. In August, the Attorney Generalís office successfully prosecuted a lawsuit against Lombard-based charity Veterans Christian Network, Inc., that was soliciting donations for veterans returning from combat but failed to use the money for programs benefitting veterans.

Attorney General Raoul has also advocated for additional protections for veterans in higher education as part of a coalition of state attorneys general. In May 2019, Raoul called on the U.S. Department of Education to automatically discharge student loans for totally and permanently disabled veterans. In April 2019, Raoul and members of the coalition called on the U.S. House Education and Labor and Veterans Affairs Committees to increase protections for veterans, who are often targets of for-profit schools.

Military service members, veterans and their families can contact Raoulís Military and Veterans Rights Helpline for assistance at 1-800-382-3000 or 1-800-964-3013 (TTY) or through the Attorney Generalís website.

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