Judge tells veterans to beware of scam calls related to 3M earplug settlement
Star Tribune October 16, 2023
(Tribune News Service) — Scammers trying to steal Social Security numbers and other personal data have been posing as a claims administrator in the $6 billion 3M earplug settlement, according to a federal judge.
Veterans and military service members who are among the 250,000 claimants in the Combat Arms settlement are urged not to give out their full Social Security numbers over the phone or email.
“All claimants need to be aware that this is happening and be vigilant about protecting their sensitive personal information from potential scammers,” Judge M. Casey Rodgers wrote in a recent court filing.
Unsolicited calls seemingly coming from settlement administrator Archer Systems have actually been made by “bad actors” using disguised caller IDs, according to the judge’s order. Archer is not contacting claimants unsolicited, does not use auto-dialers or call bots and will not ask for full Social Security numbers.
The wave of fraud calls, which have been reported to the FBI for investigation, began with information shared on Reddit that was “captured and manipulated.”
If such a call comes in, “the claimant should end the call (or not return the call, in the case of a voicemail) and immediately advise their counsel of the communication,” Rodgers wrote.
Lawyers for the plaintiffs said Monday they are “working with the claims administrator and the court to develop measures to stop bad actors and will report fraudulent conduct to the court and law enforcement.”
“Protecting service members and veterans and ensuring they receive benefits they are due from the 3M earplug litigation settlement is our top priority,” attorneys Bryan Aylstock and Christopher Seeger said in a statement.
Maplewood-based 3M announced in August it would pay $6 billion to settle one of the nation’s largest mass torts. Hundreds of thousands of veterans and service members alleged 3M subsidiary Aearo Technologies was to blame for hearing damage stemming from the use of Aearo’s Combat Arms earplugs.
3M has denied liability and maintained “the products at issue in this litigation are safe and effective when used properly,” the company said in August.
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