TONAWANDA, N.Y. -- Thomas Barden didn't think twice when he received a message on his computer about a potential hack; the messenger provided an 800 number for Barden to call.
"He thanked me for my service in the military and even knew I had retired in '89 after 21 years, and I didn't think too much about it and I ended up paying $300 for basically a protection from them," said Barden.
But it wasn't until months later when he received another call, this time requesting bank account information, that Barden knew something wasn't right.
"I refused to and he held my computer hostage, I could never get into it again. I had to destroy the computer, the hard drive, and get a new laptop," Barden said.
Barden is just one of many veterans who are seen by hackers as easy targets.
"Veterans have steady sources of income if they have disability for example, some veterans suffer from PTSD that might make them more vulnerable to these kinds of scams," said University at Buffalo law professor Jonathan Manes.
According to Vietnam Veterans of America, the U.S. Department of Defense isn't doing veterans any favors. They say its Servicemember Civil Relief Act website is providing scammers the ammo needed to make their scams believable.
"You or I could go on the website, plug in Tom's name and birth date and get access to all kinds of details like confirmation he served, what branched he served in, the date he joined the service, the date he left the service," said Manes.
The website is typically used by banks or landlords who have to confirm a military member's service record.
The VVA says the lack of safeguards on the website allows anyone to obtain information that is usually protected by the U.S. Privacy Act.
They've reached out to the DOD multiple times, requesting more protections be put on the site with no success.
On Tuesday, the VVA along with the UB School of Law filed a federal lawsuit against the DOD.
"If you try to go to the records website for the military to do anything before any information is given, they notify you that someone is trying to get information and you have to verify before they do anything. The DOD needs to take the same approach. Protect all veterans. They're the ones protecting this country," said Barden.
The Department of Defense will have 60 days to respond to the lawsuit. They have not immediately returned a request for comment.