"We are deeply troubled by the findings indicating weaknesses in the accreditation program, which may prevent VA from ensuring that veterans are served by knowledgeable, qualified, and trustworthy representatives," the senators' Friday letter to the VA said.

The senators said the department should warn veterans about the GAO's findings, and stress that the current VA accreditation program should "never imply that an individual should be trusted to provide financial planning services."

In the longer term, the VA should deepen its background checks of firms that provide financial services planning for veterans, in part by ensuring accredited people have "good moral character." The senators' letter also suggested the establishment of a complaint system veterans could use to highlight problems with these companies.