Thieves Steal Veterans Personal Data

This is a discussion on Thieves Steal Veterans Personal Data within the Law Enforcement, Military & Homeland Security Discussion forums, part of the Related Topics category; Thieves Steal Personal Data of 26.5M Vets By HOPE YEN, Associated Press Writer WASHINGTON - Thieves took sensitive personal information on 26.5 million U.S. veterans, ...

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Thread: Thieves Steal Veterans Personal Data

  1. #1
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    Thieves Steal Veterans Personal Data

    Thieves Steal Personal Data of 26.5M Vets By HOPE YEN, Associated Press Writer




    WASHINGTON - Thieves took sensitive personal information on 26.5 million U.S. veterans, including Social Security numbers and birth dates, after a Veterans Affairs employee improperly brought the material home, the government said Monday.


    The information involved mainly those veterans who served and have been discharged since 1975, said VA Secretary Jim Nicholson. Data of veterans discharged before 1975 who submitted claims to the agency may have been included.

    Nicholson said there was no evidence the thieves had used the data for identity theft, and an investigation was continuing.

    "It's highly probable that they do not know what they have," he said in a briefing with reporters. "We have decided that we must exercise an abundance of caution and make sure our veterans are aware of this incident."

    Veterans advocates expressed alarm.

    "This was a very serious breach of security for American veterans and their families," said Bob Wallace, executive director of Veterans of Foreign Wars. "We want the VA to show leadership, management and accountability for this breach."

    Ramona Joyce, spokeswoman for the American Legion, agreed that the theft was a concern. "In the information age, we're constantly told to protect our information. We would ask no less of the VA," she said.

    Nicholson declined to comment on the specifics of the incident, which involved a midlevel data analyst who had taken the information home to suburban Maryland on a laptop to work on a department project.

    The residential community had been a target of a series of burglaries when the employee was victimized earlier this month, according to the FBI in Baltimore. Local law enforcement and the VA inspector general were also investigating.

    "I want to emphasize there was no medical records of any veteran and no financial information of any veteran that's been compromised," Nicholson said, although he added later that some information on the veterans' disabilities may have been taken.

    Nicholson said he does not know how many of the department's 235,000 employees go thorough background investigations. He said employees who have access to large volumes of personal data should be required to undergo such checks, but he does not believe the VA employee was involved in the theft.

    "We do not suspect at all any ulterior motive," he said.

    The department has come under criticism for shoddy accounting practices and for falling short on the needs of veterans.

    Last year, more than 260,000 veterans could not sign up for services because of cost-cutting. Audits also have shown the agency used misleading accounting methods and lacked documentation to prove its claimed savings.

    "It is a mystifying and gravely serious concern that a VA data analyst would be permitted to just walk out the VA door with such information," Illinois Rep. Lane Evans (news, bio, voting record), the top Democrat on the Veterans Affairs Committee, said in a statement signed by other Democrats on the panel.

    Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., who is a Vietnam veteran, said he would introduce legislation to require the VA to provide credit reports to the veterans affected by the theft.

    "This is no way to treat those who have worn the uniform of our country," Kerry said. "Someone needs to be fired."

    The VA said it was notifying members of Congress and the individual veterans about the burglary. It has set up a call center at 1-800-FED-INFO and Web site, http://www.firstgov.gov, for veterans who believe their information has been misused.

    It also is stepping up its review of procedures on the use of personal data for many of its employees who telecommute as well as others who must sign disclosure forms showing they are aware of federal privacy laws and the consequences if they're violated.

    Deborah Platt Majoras, chair of the Federal Trade Commission, said her task force has reached out to the three major credit bureaus to be alert to possible misuse.

    ___
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    Holy moley - that is serious!

    Undoubtedly heads will roll but that's a bit late. Just shows how carelessness and irresponsibility can have serious consequences. It's to be hoped (somehow) the mess can be controlled before actual problems arise.
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    Nothing like a breach to spur people into action. I work for the state and one of the many parts of my job is to guard our department's data from compromise. But in the frenzy to make data available on the Internet our business units will not allow me to do my job to protect data. It is very frustrating. Until people will stand up and demand that their personal data not be made available on government websites, the problem will continue. People need to demand that all levels of government (and private companies) slow down on the deployment of web-enabled databases containing personal data. The convenience isn't worth it.....
    Bumper
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    Arrrggghhhh!
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    Not as neglectful as some. We've had people leave company laptops in their cars overnight; at least this was in the guy's house. Hopefully everything was password protected and the thieves just wipe it and before pawning it off for drug money.
    eschew obfuscation

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    Angry

    I just heard the story on Fox News radio.
    The news on the radio was very vague. Thanks for posting the full story acparmed.
    This could get very ugly if some BGs actually start using that info for purposes of Identy Theft or sell the information.
    Liberty Over Tyranny Μολὼν λαβέ

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    This is starting to get annoying, first banks and insurance companies, now the VA. We just don't seem to have any privacy left.
    Rick

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    They're trying to pass a bill so that Vets can have access to their credit reports. Problem is that it's only for a year. I'd prefer to have access for longer than that!

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    Well, I got a letter from the VA today. It appears my data has been stolen by some unscrupulous person ( do you suppose?), and I should watch my credit very carefully.

    I sure hope the guy that took all those records home got canned.
    Rick

    EOD - Initial success or total failure

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    Yes, I just got the same letter today.
    Hell, I served back in the 70's. What was my info from way back then doing on someones laptop?

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    I too got the letter. Just what I need, another headache, and more stuff to fix. It's bad enough they take my money and now my privacy.
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    Heard today that they believe that this theft is one of many in that area. In all the recovered equipment, all of the files were wiped down to just the OS and software and sold to high school and college students. They were probably too stupid to know what they had. The VA laptop has not been recoverd, BTW....
    Bumper
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    A Hint Of Good News

    So far still no Scamming or Illegal activity associated w/ the stolen laptop.

    That's a good sign because if the thieves knew what they had they likely would have tried something by now.

    So hopefully as per Bumper the info was wiped out & the laptop just sold as a hot item.

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    Angry

    Well, I have had 3 of those letters so far and it is getting real old. The first from Tricare (a military insurance) because a computer was stolen with SS #'s etc. The second was the VA (we may have dodged a bullet so to speak on this one). The third was two weeks ago from the Feds on a federal license I have and their computers were hacked and oh yes my SS# was included. All government related. Something has to be done to prevent this-YESTERDAY!

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    BTW The stolen Laptop was recovered & after a computer check the FBI determined that it does not appear that any info was compromised from that laptop.

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