November 17, 2022
WASHINGTON, D.C. –– U.S. Senator Angus King, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, is cosponsoring bipartisan legislation to protect veterans from benefits fraud. The Governing Unaccredited Representatives Defrauding (GUARD) VA Benefits Act would reinstate criminal penalties for unaccredited scam benefit representatives who charge unauthorized fees while helping veterans file a disability claim – something prohibited under current law, but without criminal charges in the statutes.
“America’s veterans have served, sacrificed, and fought for their benefits and it is reprehensible that scammers would take advantage of servicemembers during their time of need,” said Senator King. “Unfortunately, while the shameful act of charging veterans fake ‘fees’ to file a disability claim is illegal, there are currently no legal penalties to deter bad actors. The GUARD VA Benefits Act would fix this oversight and ensure that scammers and unauthorized organizations are held responsible for exploiting our heroes. This is a commonsense bill to protect out veterans and I hope it can continue to receive bipartisan support across Congress.”
The bipartisan measure has the support of numerous veterans advocacy organizations including the American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars.
“The Department of Maine Veterans of Foreign Wars and it Auxiliary are very happy that Senator Angus King has signed on as a Cosponsor to the GUARD Act,” said Steven Sanpedro, VFW Department of Maine Legislative Chairman. “These predatory unaccredited companies have taken advantage of our Veterans and their families way too long. This law will create penalties on these business that over charge our Veterans. More importantly this will put them on notice that they are being watched and will no longer be allowed to take advantage of our Veterans and their families. Thank you Senator King for signing on to this very important bill!”
"The American Legion Department of Maine is proud hear Senator King is supporting and cosponsoring the Governing Unaccredited Representatives Defrauding (GUARD) VA Benefits Act. Providing claims assistance should be about service to veterans and their families," said Kirk Thurston, Commander of the Maine American Legion. "The American Legion has been assisting the veterans’ community for more than a century, and we are committed to ensuring Maine veterans receive the care they have earned, not turning a profit."
The legislation is cosponsored by a bipartisan group of more than a dozen Senators and companion legislation has also been introduced in the House of Representatives. Click here to read the GUARD VA Benefits Act.
As a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Senator King has been a staunch advocate for America’s servicemembers and veterans. Over the last year, he’s worked to honor and preserve veterans’ stories with his “Answering the Call” interview series in partnership with the Library of Congress, and with the Honoring Purple Heart Recipients Act of 2022 that would honor and recognize the sacrifices of Purple Heart medal recipients. King also recently celebrated the Senate’s passage of the PACT Act, which would provide veterans exposed to toxic hazards their earned healthcare and benefits through the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).