What is a Veterans Identification Card (VIC) and who gets them?
The Department of Veterans Affairs is providing a Veterans Identification Card (VIC) for veterans to use at VA medical facilities. The VIC will be issued only to veterans who are eligible for VA medical benefits and only for the purpose of identification and check-in for VA medical appointments. The new card protects personal privacy by not showing Social Security Numbers or dates of birth on the front of the cards.
VA has Service Connected, POW and Purple Heart (PH) indicators on the new VIC. Veterans who have been awarded service-connected status after their VIC has been issued or SC status is not properly documented on their card, will need to present their letter showing their SC rating to the eligibility clerk at the local VA Medical Center where they obtain treatment. After verification, the eligibility clerk will submit a request to National Card Management Directory (NCMD) System for a new card to be issued to the veteran.
Once a veteran has his/her picture taken for the new card at the VA medical facility, the card will be mailed to the veteran at the address that has been provided. To ensure that a veteran receives the new VIC card, the veteran should please verify that VA has the correct address on file. If the U.S. Postal Service cannot deliver the card, it will be returned to the facility at which the card was requested. The card will then be held in a secure location at the facility for 90 days. If the card is not picked up within the 90-day period, the card will be destroyed.
With regard to the use of veteran ID cards for store discounts, please note: If these are valid store discounts for Veterans, a Veteran’s DD-214 and a driver’s license or non-driver’s license should be appropriate. The VIC is the only ID card offered for veterans by VA; if a store will not accept this proof of veteran status, please check with your State’s division of Veterans Affairs to see if they offer this service.
For all information about Veterans Identification Cards (what it is, how to get one, what to do if lost or stolen, when it can be used, etc.) go to www.va.gov/healtheligibility/Library/pubs/VIC/ for details.
Common credit scams
Credit scams can be expensive and hurt your credit, but most are easily avoided if you keep your guard up. To help you, here are the five most common credit scams and how to avoid them.
• Credit repair: You’ve heard this before — companies promising to “repair” your credit by removing negative information from your credit record if you pay a hefty up-front fee. The key red flag is the promise to remove legitimate negative information from your report rather than just fixing inaccuracies. Companies try to dispute accurate information and hope that the lender fails to respond in the mandatory 30-day period. This approach is illegal and you should avoid it. Credit repair firms can legitimately help you dispute and remove information you feel is inaccurate, but you can generally dispute this on your own if you simply document and submit what happened.
• Credit rebuilding products: Consumers with limited or poor credit often find themselves in a Catch-22 — to improve their credit, they need to show they can manage it, but they’re unable to get it. Some unscrupulous companies offer “credit rebuilding” products that they advertise as the first step to better credit. However, these products often come with low credit lines and high fees that can eat up nearly 100% of the balance. The unsuspecting borrower who spends on these cards can quickly finds themselves over their limit, paying fees, and hurting their credit. Make sure to closely look at all fees associated with these products. A secured card (backed by a deposit of your own money) can be a lower cost way to start rebuilding your credit.
• Rent to Own: For people who are short on cash, advertisers promote the ability to purchase big ticket items such as furniture, appliances or TVs for no money down and without a credit check simply by agreeing to make regular payments.
So what’s the catch? Under rent-to-own you generally pay more, around two times the market price, using rent to own because of the interest rate associated to this type of loan. And most credit scoring models will penalize you for a rent to own loan on your report, as it’s correlated with poor credit management.
To avoid rent to own, simply save money in advance for a large purchase or try picking up needed items at thrift stores or yard sales.
• Payday Loan: A payday loan is a short-term loan designed to be repaid through a checking withdrawal at the next payday. It’s a short-term loan that many use to meet immediate demands like utility payments. However, the fee structure of such loans means that you will pay an annualized rate of interest that’s often over 200%.
Avoid payday loans at all costs if you can by using other sources of cash or credit for emergencies. Avoid all non-essential spending until you can build up a cash buffer to see you through future emergencies.
• Advance-Fee Loans: Similar to credit repair, advance-fee loans guarantee a loan/credit so long as you pay a fee in advance. Don’t fall for this! A legitimate lender will:
• Never guarantee you a loan if you have not yet applied.
• Request a credit report, but never ask you to pay for processing your application.
• Never ask you to pay if you have not confirmed the offer in writing or have the offer in your hand.
The best thing you can do for yourself is to always do your research before taking on a loan. Try to avoid giving out your personal information unless it is a trusted source.
This content is provided courtesy of Savvy Money.
For further information on VA benefits, call or stop by the Archuleta County Veterans Service Office, located at the Senior Center in the Ross Aragon Community Center, on Hot Springs Boulevard. The office number is 264-4013, the fax number is 264-4014, cell number is 946-3590, and e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org. The office is open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday. Bring your DD Form 214 (Discharge) for applications to VA programs or benefits for which the veteran may be entitled to enroll, and for filing in the VSO office.
Durango VA Clinic
The Durango VA Outpatient Clinic is located at 1970 E. Third Ave. in the old Mercy Medical Center.
The following veterans groups meet in Pagosa Springs:
American Legion Post 108, second Wednesday of the month at 7 p.m., 287 Hermosa St.
Veterans for Veterans, every Tuesday at 10 a.m., 164 N. Pagosa Blvd. (Buffalo Inn).