For Immediate Release: Contact:
Aug. 9, 2023 PressOffice@ilag.gov
In the letter, Raoul and the coalition explained the passing of the bipartisan legislation would hold unaccredited and unregulated actors accountable for targeting and preying upon veterans who apply for federal VA benefits.
"Our veterans deserve every benefit they have earned by selflessly serving this country, and anyone who deliberately takes advantage of a veteran for financial gain must be held accountable,” Raoul said. "The G.U.A.R.D. VA Benefits Act will prevent bad actors from being able to prey on veterans with impunity while preserving the right of veterans to select entities to assist with their VA benefits or claims.”
Federal law requires proper accreditation through the VA Office of General Counsel (OGC) for anyone who assists veterans in preparing, presenting, or prosecuting claims However, in 2006, the OGC became virtually powerless to enforce the federal statute against anyone who was not following the law due to the removal of criminal penalties.
Raoul and the coalition said in the letter that, without accountability, unaccredited actors can advertise coaching and consultation services that are purportedly superior to the free services offered by accredited actors such as veteran service officers, claim agents and attorneys. In reality, the veterans do all of the work, and the unaccredited actors may only answer questions or advise.
According to Raoul and the coalition, 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some require the veteran to share system logins, passwords or even bank account information so fees can be immediately withdrawn before the veteran even learns claim money has been deposited.
Joining Raoul in submitting the letter are the attorneys general of Alaska, America Samoa, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.