Don’t get stung by change to VA benefits

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Attention veterans:

If you are a veteran covered under VA medical benefits, this could impact you. The Veteran’s Millennium Health Care and Benefits Act (The Millennium Act) was passed in 1999, but it isn’t well-known or understood by many veterans. What you should know is there is a requirement that vets must visit a VA doctor at least once every two years. Why? Because if you have a medical emergency and need to visit a non-VA ER facility — but you haven’t been to a VA doctor at a VA facility in two years or more, you could find out that the VA will deny your medical claim. This means you’ll be stuck paying the bill yourself.

Station KARE 11 in Minneapolis, Minn., undertook a year-long investigation of the VA entitled “A Pattern of Denial.” In July 2018, this report revealed that from January 2015 to July 2017, the VA had rejected over 219,000 claims for emergency visits nationwide with the single reason: “This Veteran has not received VA medical care in the last 24 months.” These claim denials have left veterans responsible for over $791 million nationwide in medical bills. What’s more, these veterans have found that appealing the decision did them little good, since they got no help from the VA.

If you are covered by VA benefits, do yourself a favor and make sure you see your VA doctor within a two-year period, so in the event of an emergency you can avoid falling victim to this trap. Here’s the website to check out the requirements https://www.tampa.va.gov/patients/emergency-care.asp — or call the regional VA office at 208-665-1700.

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Yahoo Customer Support Scam

I’ve been contacted by several consumers who were recently locked out of their Yahoo email accounts. When they called the 1-800 Yahoo support line, they were surprised to find out they were going to be charged for the service call and wondered why. Turns out scammers have figured out a way to post phone numbers online to get customers to call tricking them into thinking they are talking to an actual Yahoo representative.

First, the good news, Yahoo customer service is free. Now the bad news, you will not find a phone number online from Yahoo customer service to help you. Yahoo does not publically post a customer service phone number anywhere. They don’t even post phone numbers on their verified social media account or official website.

I checked and this is true. The numbers I did find all directed me to sign up for Yahoo customer service for a monthly fee from $4.99 per call to $49.99 per month. Pretty sneaky, and none of these are supposedly legitimate Yahoo sites, but they looked pretty real.

So what can a customer do if they need help? According to Yahoo your support options can only be found at Yahoo Help Central at https://help.yahoo.com. I did check this out but when I clicked on the option for speak to someone live, I was redirected to a payment page. Yahoo is aware the scam is directly tied to their support page but they have no fix for it.

Hopefully, whatever your problem is you are able to use the help screens to figure it out as Yahoo isn’t very customer friendly with live help. And whatever you do, never let anyone on the phone claiming to be Yahoo support remotely access your computer, because Yahoo says this is part of the scam.

My advice is if you think you are talking to Yahoo customer support and you are asked for a credit card, banking or account information, hang up immediately. Handing over this information could compromise your account and these fake service providers will have access to your account and financial information.

I wanted to call Yahoo and give them a piece of my mind about their crappy customer service, but they weren’t taking calls that day (in other words, I couldn’t find a valid phone number to call). If one of our readers finds a working customer service number for Yahoo, please let me know so I can post it in a future column.

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Landlord vs Tenant Rights

Many landlords (including assisted living facilities) are moving in the direction of electronic rent payments, and in some cases are trying to convince tenants that it is mandatory they pay via electronic transfer out of their bank account. I recently received a call from a reader concerned that this “mandatory” requirement is an invasion of privacy.

The question is, does a landlord have the legal right to force a tenant to provide their banking account information for rent payments? The simple answer in Idaho is NO.

A landlord can request a tenant authorize direct transfers to make rent payments from their bank account and can state that this is their required method of receiving rents, but here in Idaho the landlord must provide an alternative payment method.

The bottom line is, if you don’t want to authorize direct payment, you don’t have to. But remember, in a tight rental market a landlord could consider you a “problem tenant” and choose to terminate your lease upon expiration. You might also consider that electronic payment convenient because you won’t forget to drop off the rent check.

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Remember: I’m on your side.

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If you have encountered a consumer issue that you have questions about or think our readers should know about, please give me a call. As The CDA Press Consumer Gal, I’m here to help. You can either email me at terridickersonadvocate@gmail.com or call me at (208) 274-4458. Please include your name and a phone number or email. I’m available to speak about consumerism to schools, and local and civic groups. I’m a copywriter and consumer advocate living in Coeur d’Alene.

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