ARLINGTON, Va. — Veterans who get their medications through the Department of Veterans Affairs are the latest targets of scammers, who are using a phony cover story to steal credit card information.

The VA is warning veterans to pass the word and be on the alert for callers who falsely claim to represent the agency as part of the “Patient Care Group.”

The criminals, who are apparently focusing on Midwest states, are saying that they “administer” the VA’s prescription medicine program, according to a warning posted by the department’s Web site Oct. 19.

The scammers tell vets that in order to “validate” program participation and keep getting prescriptions, they must provide a credit card number on the spot.

“VA has not changed its processes for dispensing prescription medicines,” James Nicholson, Secretary of Veterans Affairs, says in the posted warning.

“And we’ve definitely not changed our long-standing commitment to protect the personal information of our veterans.”

Veterans with questions should contact the nearest VA medical center or call (877) 222-8387, the warning says.

Meanwhile, financial experts note that no legitimate organization, including banks and credit card companies themselves (who already have card information in their files) will “cold call” out of the blue to ask for credit information.

The only time to provide credit card numbers over the telephone is when customers are themselves calling a legitimate organization to make a purchase, donation, or with a question, the experts say.

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