Craig Gima
Hawai‘i Herald Columnist

We all work hard to earn our money, and most of us have or are contributing to Social Security, so we at AARP are working hard to give you information to protect yourself and loved ones from fraud and to ensure that you get the Social Security benefits you’ve paid for.

We have free events planned over the next month to help you fight back against fraud and get answers to your questions about Social Security from U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz and representatives of the Social Security Administration.

First let’s talk about fraud, which many people believe is at a crisis level. Veterans are often the target of fraudsters. The Federal Trade Commission says active-duty military and veterans lost more than $414 million to fraud and scams in 2022, nearly double the amount lost in 2021.

Both AARP and the Veterans Administration are warning veterans about unnecessary fees charged to veterans who apply for the Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics Act, or PACT Act. AARP surveyed veterans and found nearly two-thirds of veterans were not aware that they can get free help filing for benefits. The new law expands access to the Veterans Administration health benefits for people exposed to burn pits in the Gulf Wars, Agent Orange and other toxics. Scammers are taking advantage of the PACT Act by promising lucrative payouts in exchange for a fee. One in ten veterans told us they’ve been solicited by someone who promises help with getting benefits if they’ll pay.

If you want to learn more about scams, you can get answers from one of AARP’s top fraud experts at free, in-person events in early September. Kathy Stokes, AARP’s Director of Fraud Prevention, will be in Hawai‘i along with Kate Klinnert, a survivor of a romance scam. Stokes and Klinnert will be in Hilo at the Hilo Hawaiian Hotel on Wednesday, Sept. 6 at 9:30 a.m.; on Maui at the Maui Beach Hotel on Friday, Sept. 8 at 9:30 a.m. and at an AARP Hawai‘i Scam Jam on Saturday, Sept. 9 at 9 a.m. at the Ala Moana Hotel.

The events are free, but seating is limited. To register go to or the AARP Hawai‘i Facebook page or call 877-926-8300.

We’re also answering questions about Social Security and its future with Sen. Schatz and representatives of the Social Security Administration at a Telephone Town Hall sponsored by AARP Hawai‘i on Thursday, Aug. 24 at 9 a.m.

The Telephone Town Hall works like a call-in radio program, except that it is held over the telephone instead of broadcast on radio. Participants will have a chance to ask Sen. Schatz questions, or they can just listen to the forum. Those who have participated in previous telephone town halls will get a phone call asking if they want to join the telephone forum. Others can also participate at on Aug. 24 by calling a toll-free number 833-305-0175 or by watching our recording of the Telephone Town Hall on the AARP Hawai‘i Facebook page.

Craig Gima is the communications director at AARP Hawai‘i. He is an award-winning multimedia communicator with more than 30 years of experience. A Honolulu native, Gima spent nearly 19 years at the Honolulu Star-Advertiser in a variety of reporting, editing and online roles before joining AARP in 2016. Gima graduated cum laude from the University of Southern California.


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