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Attorney General Stein Pushes for Legislation To Protect Veterans’ Benefits

For Immediate Release:
Wednesday, August 9, 2023

Contact: Nazneen Ahmed
919-716-0060

(RALEIGH) Attorney General Josh Stein today urged Congress to protect military veterans by passing the Governing Unaccredited Representatives Defrauding (G.U.A.R.D.) Veterans Affairs (VA) Benefits Act. The bipartisan legislation will hold accountable unaccredited and unregulated bad actors who prey upon veterans applying for federal VA benefits.

“After everything our veterans have done for us, the least we must do is protect their benefits from scammers,” said Attorney General Josh Stein. “I urge Congress to pass this law and protect veterans from bad actors who try to take advantage of them instead of providing assistance.”

Federal law requires that anyone who helps veterans with their claims be accredited through the VA Office of General Consul. But in 2006, the criminal penalties were removed from the law and the office became virtually powerless to enforce the statute.

Attorney General Stein and a bipartisan coalition of 44 attorneys general said that without accountability, unaccredited actors can advertise coaching and consultation services that they claim are better than the free services that accredited veteran service officers, claim agents, and attorneys offer.

In reality, the veterans do all of the work, and the unaccredited actors may only answer questions or give advice. The unaccredited actors never contact the veteran once the veteran finishes the claim. Accredited veteran service officers and claim agents, on the other hand, do all of the required work and remain available to the veteran. Additionally, since unaccredited actors do not have access to the VA claim system, some require the veteran to share system logins, passwords, or even bank account information, and they immediately withdraw their fees before the veteran even learns their claim money has been deposited.

Attorney General Stein is joined in sending this letter by the Attorneys General of Alaska, America Samoa, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

A copy of the letter is available here.

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