Veteran’s are having their E-Benefits stolen by hackers every month and the VA is doing nothing to prevent it from happening.
The problem is not being reported in the mainstream media and this is simply unacceptable.
Is this how we treat our nation’s finest?
They deserve so much better.
It is not that the VA is not fixing individual cases as they happen, because they are, albeit slowly.
It can take several weeks for lost benefits to be recovered, but they are reportedly recovering the funds.
However, for families living paycheck to paycheck this can cause a whole myriad of problems such as bounced checks and/or late payments.
Consider this report from one of my social media friends. Her and her husband just lost their benefits to hackers for the second consecutive month and the VA has yet to recover the first month:
Ok. My husband is a combat vet with 2 tours in Iraq. He has a 90% VA disability rating. We get $2189 and change every month direct deposited on the first. Ebenefits is the VA’s website for benefits. We were out of town hunting in September. I checked the account 9/5 late and found out we didnt get his disability check and we were waayyy overdrawn. So Sept. 6th we called the VA to see what happened. They said the money went to a JPMorgan/Chase account… We don’t have an account there. They corrected it back to our bank and account and opened a fraud investigation. She said it can take 2-6 weeks for the investigation and basically there’s nothing we can do in the mean time. When we got home I got onto ebenefits and had to reset everything. Okay, so they hacked in through there. I changed all the info and verified she changed the account information correctly. Cool. The VA gave us a number to call to have the account locked but we couldn’t get a hold of anybody. Today I wanted to check the account because whoever did it last time knew to do it towards the end of the month. I couldn’t get in. Ok so I went to re-set the password and the security questions were different… again. I tried to remote verify but that system is down from 9/22 – 10/22. A month? Okay so we called the VA. Yes the account was hit again, they didn’t question the change despite an open investigation. and even though it’s only the 24th the payment is already pending so it’s too late to get paid the 1st. They have to open ANOTHER investigation and had no idea how long it would take this time. Supposedly the account is completely locked now. The lady at the VA that William spoke with said there was a huge issue this month and that nobody can change their password or remote verify until they figure out what happened but it is a widespread problem. I called the NM governor’s office who directed me to Martin Heinrich’s office. They got the info and said the VA is looking into it and will give either their office or us a call. But basically the VA doesn’t care or has NO WAY to help Vets who rely on this money. The bank MAY be able to refund SOME of the overdrafts… I can’t find anything on this online. I will see if I can get in touch with the Whitehouse and any Veteran Service Organizations but I’m not sure this situation will qualify for any financial help. I have a call into the local VA (Raymond G Murphy) in ABQ for the patient advocate but of course I haven’t received a call back and I don’t expect to.
The above was in response to a request for my friend to send me as much information as she could about her situation. I then followed up with another question: How long does it take to get your money once the fraud is detected? Below is her response.
They won’t tell us. Originally they said up to 6 weeks for the first one. It’s been 3 and we can’t even get an update.
Again, this has now happened in two consecutive months and the first case has not even been resolved. Can you imagine the financial stress this is creating?
Perhaps the worst part of this fiasco is that it has been going on since at least July of 2016. This is the earliest report I could find of the E-Benefits hacking from July 1, 2016, as reported by WTKR.
CHESAPEAKE, Va. – Toby Yarbrough says he wants answers after his monthly disability check was missing from his Navy Federal Credit Union bank account this morning.
He says the check was deposited into a completely different bank.
Both, his routing and account number had also been changed.
“It’s not actually a bank/checking account,” Yarbrough explained. “It`s one of those net spending credit cards type of account. This guy right here wasn’t too smart cause it`s got the bank info with account number and routing number.”
Yarbrough says the other bank is investigating who could have transferred the money.
Whomever the person is, Yarbrough says they only could have done it by hacking the Veterans Affairs eBenefits website.
“Everything that`s on eBenefits has all my information from my military career. Has my name, social security number, my phone number, bank account numbers,” Yarbrough said.
Upon searching for “veterans benefits hacked” I found dozens of similar stories that were exclusively being reported by local news sources. There seems to be little to no coverage of this story nationally. Here are a few links to follow to see that this is not an isolated problem.
Local veterans report that their disability payments have been hijacked
Troubleshooter helps veteran get his disability check after his account is hacked
ON YOUR SIDE: Veterans fight to get benefits restored after eBenefits account is compromised
Veteran family of 5 has disability check hijacked
Receive VA disability payments? You’ll want to check your account.
Kentucky veteran claims disability account hacked, VA slow to fix it
Las Vegas veteran says benefits account compromised
This is just a list from the first page of my internet search. There are dozens of similarly documented cases out there.
So why has the national media not picked up on this over the last 2 years?
It is a fair question.
Nothing can be done to stop hackers from occasionally getting into people’s financial accounts. The problem is that the VA has put no safeguards in place to slow the hackers OR to give the benefits recipient a chance to react.
Most financial institutions will call, text, or email upon noticing suspicious activity.
The VA has no such system in place.
Consequently, if a beneficiary is hacked they have no time to react and recover their money before it is in the hands of someone else.
And, again, this has been going on for at least 2 years.
Nothing has been fixed in that time.
Why have no safeguards been put in place to at least make it tougher on the hackers?
As you watch the below video of a case from Colorado Springs, keep in mind that not all of our vets are fortunate enough to have “savings” to fall back on. This family is lucky.
I would encourage you to contact your representatives TODAY by phone or email. Email a copy of this article, or one of those linked above, if you want to show them real life examples of how the continued hacking is hurting our veterans, and how the VA has nothing to stop it, or even slow it down.
I would also ask you to help make this article go as viral as possible. My websites, I have two, are so overly censored that I am lucky to get 1000 readers on most of our stories.
But if we don’t cause a small blip on the radar, the mainstream media will never cover this story. So please take the time to pass this along.
If anything ever needed to go viral from my small potatoes websites, this would be it.
Our finest deserve so much better than this.
What is happening to them is simply unacceptable.
UPDATE: I sent a note to my friend a couple of hours ago telling her that I was writing the article and would protect her anonymity. While I was writing she sent me this note, “Lol okay. Another thing is the va sends you a letter notifying you a change was made to the account but it takes about 10 days to receive it so its worthless because it’s too late.” Ten days? The VA is stuck in the stone ages. By then, as my friend stated, it is way too late.
Dean Garrison is the Publisher of DC Clothesline and DC Dirty Laundry.
Featured Image Courtesy of WKYT