News of the Day ... In Perspective05/23/2006
Personal data of 26.5 million veterans stolen
Data including the Social Security numbers and birthdates of 26.5 million veterans discharged since 1975 was stolen in the burglary of the home of a midlevel data analyst. The Veterans Affairs employee had taken the information home on a laptop computer to work on a departmental project.
Medical and financial information was not compromised, according to VA Secretary Jim Nicholson, although some information on disabilities may have been included.
There is no evidence that the data have been used for identity theft, Nicholson said. “It’s highly probable that [the thieves] do not know what they have.”
Individual veterans and major credit bureaus have been notified. Veterans who believe their information has been misused can call 1-800-FED-INFO or visit www.firstgov.gov.
Nicholson does not know how many of the department’s 235,000 employees go through background investigations.
The Department of Veterans Affairs has also come under fire for misleading accounting practices (Hope Yen, Associated Press 5/23/06)