Protects Veterans and Their Families from Pension Poaching and Other Scams that Can Detrimentally Impact Their Future Financial Situations
Prohibits Any Entity from Receiving Compensation for Helping Veterans and Their Dependents Prepare a Claim
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today signed legislation (S.4807/A.6292) to protect veterans from scammers and unscrupulous businesses who attempt to sell unneeded financial products or services to veterans to earn a commission or fee. The Pension Poaching Prevention Act prohibits any entity from receiving compensation for helping veterans and their dependents prepare a claim for benefits services that the entity is not authorized to provide, except as allowed under the United States Department of Veterans Affairs standards. The bill will take effect 120 days after becoming law.
"Our veterans bravely put their lives on the line to protect our country and our freedoms, and we owe it to them to help ensure they have the protections and resources they need to be financially stable in the future," Governor Cuomo said. "There are plenty of business that legitimately assist veterans and their families. However, there are far too many bad actors who prey upon the individuals who have valiantly served our state and our nation, causing irreparable financial harm. In enacting the strongest state legislation in the nation to protect our veterans and their families from these pension poaching schemes, we are sending a clear message to these unscrupulous entities that we will not allow them to abuse our service members and recognizing the sacrifice these brave men and women have made."
Pension poaching is a growing scam nationwide involving unscrupulous financial planners, insurance agents or other entities who target elderly and disabled veterans. These unethical entities claim they are assisting veterans and their families obtain benefits from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, but in fact they are often convincing veterans to reposition their assets to qualify for benefits they are not eligible for and which have specific and strict qualifications. The poachers then often sell the veteran's unneeded financial products or services to earn a commission or fee. These brokers typically fail to deliver on their promise of benefits, do not provide full information about other veterans' benefits and do not reveal the potentially adverse consequences of the financial transactions, such as loss of Medicaid eligibility.
The Pension Poaching Prevention Act puts several provisions in place to protect veterans and their families. This legislation makes it illegal to receive compensation for assisting with the preparation of a claim and prohibits these entities from charging unreasonable fees for services and guaranteeing that an individual will receive a specific amount of veterans' benefits money, a dishonest tactic that pension poachers commonly employ. In addition, the legislation requires that entities offering these services inform veterans and their families that the New York State Division of Veterans' Services and their local Veterans Service Agencies can provide free services regarding Veterans' benefits.
Senator David Carlucci said, "This legislation which I sponsored with Assemblyman Mosley will crackdown on the despicable crime of pension poaching by preventing scammers from profiting off a veteran's service. Veterans are heroes who have served our country selflessly to defend our freedoms. Now it's our turn to help protect them from scam artists who seek to steal their hard earned money. Thank you Governor Cuomo for signing this needed legislation into law."
Assembly Member Walter T. Mosley said, "I am proud to have sponsored the strongest state legislation in the nation in an effort to protect our veterans and their families. As such, I commend the Governor for signing the Poaching Prevention Act. As the son and grandson of veterans, I have always felt a deep connection to our women and men who have and currently serve in our armed forces. Many fellow New Yorkers who made the great sacrifice of serving and putting our country before their friends, families, and personal safety. Just as they have done time and time again, it is time for us to ensure that they have the protections and resources they need to be financially secure. It is our turn to ensure that our great state will protect our veterans so they won't have to worry about their financial security being attacked."
Division of Veterans' Service Director Jim McDonough said, "I applaud the signing of The Pension Poaching Prevention Act by Governor Cuomo, which provides some of strongest fiscal protections in the nation for Veterans and their families. Now, those that served and call New York home will know that their earned benefits will be protected from those who would take advantage of them."
Governor Cuomo has been a champion in protecting the rights of the nearly 750,000 veterans living in New York State. Under his administration, New York has enacted the nation's largest fund for service-disabled veteran-owned businesses, certifying 621 businesses to date; partnered with the federal Department of Veteran Affairs to reduce the backlog of benefit claims; launched the Justice for Heroes Initiative to fund legal clinics at law schools that provide assistance to veterans; provided funding for nonprofits that provide peer-to-peer help for veterans and their families; and waived the application fee for veterans taking Civil Service exams.