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Theft of VA data (SSNs for 26.5 million vets)
Old 05-23-2006, 09:10 AM   #1
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Theft of VA data (SSNs for 26.5 million vets)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Caroline
This just in:
"WASHINGTON - Personal data, including Social Security numbers of 26.5 million U.S. veterans, was stolen from a Veterans Affairs employee this month after he took the information home without authorization, the department said Monday. "
I'd have scathing commentary on this, but being one of the 26.5 million, I'm too busy trying to freeze my credit reports against this breech of my personal information to go on at length.
Suffice it to say that no matter HOW much we trust the government's motives in gathering and storing information, its sheer incompetence should be enough to keep us up nights.
Caroline
No one has been notified yet and I'm not sure that anyone ever will be. We're probably on our own.

The full article is here: http://www.firstgov.gov/veteransinfo.shtml
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Re: Theft of VA data (SSNs for 26.5 million vets)
Old 05-23-2006, 11:21 AM   #2
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Re: Theft of VA data (SSNs for 26.5 million vets)

Nords (& Others),

After reading the firstgov.gov link and several news articles since yesterday, I still don't know a whole lot about this.* What would I have had to do (as a retired USN O-5) to be in this database?* File a VA claim? Or just be a veteran? I can't believe that 26.5M names constitutes the entire population of vets, or does it?

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Re: Theft of VA data (SSNs for 26.5 million vets)
Old 05-23-2006, 11:30 AM   #3
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Re: Theft of VA data (SSNs for 26.5 million vets)

I heard on the radio it was vets from 1975+. Radio also mentioned a total vet population of 260 million I think (could have been 206 mil).
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Re: Theft of VA data (SSNs for 26.5 million vets)
Old 05-23-2006, 11:34 AM   #4
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Re: Theft of VA data (SSNs for 26.5 million vets)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Obiwan
Nords (& Others),

After reading the firstgov.gov link and several news articles since yesterday, I still don't know a whole lot about this. What would I have had to do (as a retired USN O-5) to be in this database? File a VA claim? Or just be a veteran? I can't believe that 26.5M names constitutes the entire population of vets, or does it?
As B-bill said, all veterans from 1975 forward.

From CNN: "The computer disk contained the names, Social Security numbers and birth dates of every living veteran from 1975 to the present, Veterans Affairs Secretary Jim Nicholson said Monday."


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Re: Theft of VA data (SSNs for 26.5 million vets)
Old 05-23-2006, 11:39 AM   #5
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Re: Theft of VA data (SSNs for 26.5 million vets)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Obiwan
After reading the firstgov.gov link and several news articles since yesterday, I still don't know a whole lot about this.* What would I have had to do (as a retired USN O-5) to be in this database?* Or just be a veteran?
Yup.

I don't think this information is anything new to the criminal world, just a fresh release of old data. The burglar may have no idea what it was and may already have flogged the laptop over Wab's their eBay account.
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Re: Theft of VA data (SSNs for 26.5 million vets)
Old 05-23-2006, 11:48 AM   #6
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Re: Theft of VA data (SSNs for 26.5 million vets)

What I think the VA should do is pay to send all those possibly affected a cy of their credit reports monthly until they know the scope of the problem .

What I think will realy happen is nothing--everyone for themselves.

I'll bet USAA is steping up to the plate right now to take some common-sense steps. Ft Sam and PFCU will likely do the same.
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Re: Theft of VA data (SSNs for 26.5 million vets)
Old 05-23-2006, 11:55 AM   #7
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Re: Theft of VA data (SSNs for 26.5 million vets)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nords
Yup.

I don't think this information is anything new to the criminal world, just a fresh release of old data. The burglar may have no idea what it was and may already have flogged the laptop over Wab's their eBay account.
Agreed. This sounds like someone stole a laptop, not a data file. Granted, agencies and corporations need to take better care of their (our) data but the media overplay this sort of loss. This data is readily available already. Think what any business can learn about you from a credit bureau. Until recently, my DC drivers license displayed my name, DOB and SSN.

The fact that someone can go sign up for a credit card with just a few pieces of readily available info makes it impossible to fully avoid indentity theft. Of course, it also means that the identity theives will never actually get your money -- just your time (to clear up the wreckage). The companies that hand out the cards are ultimately responsible for their misuse - they just figure a little fraud is better than the loss of customers they would suffer if they made it reasonably hard to get the card in the first place. And they can pass the costs on to all card holders.

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Re: Theft of VA data (SSNs for 26.5 million vets)
Old 05-23-2006, 04:47 PM   #8
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Re: Theft of VA data (SSNs for 26.5 million vets)

So what are the odds?

Someone puts a database on their laptop that they're not supposed to put on a laptop.

They take the laptop thats not supposed to be removed from the secured area out of the secured area.

And then it almost immediately gets stolen.

Wow, somebody has to buy a lottery ticket. These are some pretty good odds. Unless of course, people regularly copy large government databases when they're not supposed to and remove government property from secured areas when they're not supposed to. And their stuff gets stolen all the time.

Then I guess its SOP and someone should write it into the employee handbook.
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Re: Theft of VA data (SSNs for 26.5 million vets)
Old 05-23-2006, 04:52 PM   #9
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Re: Theft of VA data (SSNs for 26.5 million vets)

Quote:
Originally Posted by samclem


I'll bet USAA is steping up to the plate right now to take some common-sense steps. Ft Sam and PFCU will likely do the same.
Unless USAA can figure out a way to make a buck on it don't count on it!
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Re: Theft of VA data (SSNs for 26.5 million vets)
Old 05-23-2006, 05:05 PM   #10
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Re: Theft of VA data (SSNs for 26.5 million vets)

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Originally Posted by Cute Fuzzy Bunny
Unless of course, people regularly copy large government databases when they're not supposed to and remove government property from secured areas when they're not supposed to.*
No idea about this particular incident, but yeah, you can be pretty certain that companies and governments don't go overboard trying to keep your personal data secure. They keep *their* personal data secure, but yours is generally available to any minimum-wage ex-con who takes an interest.
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Re: Theft of VA data (SSNs for 26.5 million vets)
Old 05-23-2006, 07:51 PM   #11
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Re: Theft of VA data (SSNs for 26.5 million vets)

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As B-bill said, all veterans from 1975 forward.
I'm safe.
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Re: Theft of VA data (SSNs for 26.5 million vets)
Old 05-23-2006, 07:59 PM   #12
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Re: Theft of VA data (SSNs for 26.5 million vets)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cute Fuzzy Bunny
So what are the odds?
Probably almost inevitable. Analysts are always downloading huge data sets then crunching locally. Lots of them cart the info around with them. Many users would not think of this as "sensistive" data unless they really "thought" about it. So -- home many laptops get stolen? A lot. How many have "sensitive" data? Very few. What are the odds that some tiny number will have sensitive data? A certainty.

What are the odds that the guy who takes the stuff home when he shouldn't will blow the whistle on himself when the laptop gets stolen? Almost zero -- except this was some dedicated government employee working overtime without pay because he likes his data crunching and is now horrified that he compromised 26M vets security. So he steps up to the plate and reports the theft.
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Re: Theft of VA data (SSNs for 26.5 million vets)
Old 05-23-2006, 08:29 PM   #13
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Re: Theft of VA data (SSNs for 26.5 million vets)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nords
The burglar may have no idea what it was...
Oh great. The burglar didn't know what he had, but now that you've spilled the beans, he's offering the IDs to Capital One, and we'll all start getting offered 0% interest account balance transfers!
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Re: Theft of VA data (SSNs for 26.5 million vets)
Old 05-23-2006, 08:42 PM   #14
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Re: Theft of VA data (SSNs for 26.5 million vets)

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Oh great. The burglar didn't know what he had, but now that you've spilled the beans, he's offering the IDs to Capital One, and we'll all start getting offered 0% interest account balance transfers!
Don't knock it. Dang few veterans benefits left, and it's better than nothing.

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Re: Theft of VA data (SSNs for 26.5 million vets)
Old 05-25-2006, 05:46 PM   #15
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Re: Theft of VA data (SSNs for 26.5 million vets)

CBS news just interviewed a company that monitors identity theft activity on the net. They said they had seen a 158% increase in the availability of SS #'s for sale since May 1. The largest one month increase they've ever measured, by far.

No way to link this to the recent theft of veteran's info, but... :P

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Re: Theft of VA data (SSNs for 26.5 million vets)
Old 06-21-2006, 04:04 PM   #16
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Re: Theft of VA data (SSNs for 26.5 million vets)

Just heard a report on CNN that the Veteran's Administration has agreed to pay for credit monitoring for the millions of us who are at risk. The VA is supposedly getting bids for the service now and will send out letters (again) in August giving all involved a chance to sign up for one year of monitoring on the VA's tab.
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Re: Theft of VA data (SSNs for 26.5 million vets)
Old 06-21-2006, 07:09 PM   #17
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Re: Theft of VA data (SSNs for 26.5 million vets)

Quote:
Originally Posted by REWahoo!
Just heard a report on CNN that the Veteran's Administration has agreed to pay for credit monitoring for the millions of us who are at risk.* The VA is supposedly getting bids for the service now and will send out letters (again) in August giving all involved a chance to sign up for one year of monitoring on the VA's tab.
Hey, maybe they'll be able to get us one free report per year from each agency.

For one year.

Then they'll put all of us into a database that'll fit onto a laptop hard drive...
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Re: Theft of VA data (SSNs for 26.5 million vets)
Old 06-21-2006, 07:14 PM   #18
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Re: Theft of VA data (SSNs for 26.5 million vets)

If they sign you up for the same thing ML signed me up for as a result of losing the laptop with a bunch of pension data, its pretty decent. You can look at your credit report at any time and get emails if any new accts are opened or a large balance change occurs.
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Re: Theft of VA data (SSNs for 26.5 million vets)
Old 06-21-2006, 07:53 PM   #19
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Re: Theft of VA data (SSNs for 26.5 million vets)

How long did it take them to realize that offering credit watch was the right thing to do? Seems like they could of just stole the play book from corp. america and offered this when the news came out.
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Re: Theft of VA data (SSNs for 26.5 million vets)
Old 06-21-2006, 07:56 PM   #20
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Re: Theft of VA data (SSNs for 26.5 million vets)

An AF retiree sent me this from their newsletter:

VA to offer free credit monitoring


As part of the continuing efforts by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to protect and assist those potentially affected by the recent data theft that occurred at an employee's Maryland home, Secretary of Veterans Affairs R. James Nicholson today announced that VA will provide one year of free credit monitoring to people whose sensitive personal information may have been stolen in the incident.

"VA continues to take aggressive steps to protect and assist people who may be potentially affected by this data theft," said Nicholson. "VA has conducted extensive market research on available credit monitoring solutions, and has been working diligently to determine how VA can best serve those whose information was stolen. Free credit monitoring will help safeguard those who may be affected, and will provide them with the peace of mind they deserve," he added.

The Secretary said VA has no reason to believe the perpetrators who committed this burglary were targeting the data, and Federal investigators believe that it is unlikely that identity theft has resulted from the data theft.

This week, VA will solicit bids from qualified companies to provide a comprehensive credit monitoring solution. VA will ask these companies to provide expedited proposals and to be prepared to implement them rapidly once they are under contract.

After VA hires a credit monitoring company, the Department will send a detailed letter to people whose sensitive personal information may have been included in the stolen data. This letter will explain credit monitoring and how eligible people can enroll or "opt-in" for the services. The Department expects to have the services in place and the letters mailed by mid-August.

Secretary Nicholson also announced VA is soliciting bids to hire a company that provides data-breach analysis, which will look for possible misuse of the stolen VA data. The analysis would help measure the risk of the data loss, identify suspicious misuse of identity information and expedite full assistance to affected people.

As part of VA's efforts to prevent such an incident from happening again, Secretary Nicholson previously announced:

* a series of personnel changes in the Office of Policy and Planning, where the breach occurred;

* the hiring of former Maricopa County (Ariz.) prosecutor Richard Romley as a Special Advisor for Information Security;

* the expedited completion of Cyber Security Awareness Training and Privacy Awareness Training for all VA employees;

* that an inventory be taken of all positions requiring access to sensitive VA data by June 30, 2006, to ensure that only those employees who need such access to do their jobs have it;

* that every laptop in VA undergo a security review to ensure that all security and virus software is current, including the immediate removal of any unauthorized information or software;

* and that VA facilities across the country - every hospital, Community-Based Outpatient Clinic (CBOC), regional office, national cemetery, field office and VA's Central Office - observe Security Awareness Week beginning June 26.

People who believe they may be affected by the data theft can go to www.firstgov.gov for more information. VA also continues to operate a call center that people can contact to get information about this incident and learn more about consumer-identity protections. The toll free number is 1-800-FED INFO (1-800-333-4636). The call center is operating from 8:00 am to 9:00 pm (EDT), Monday-Saturday as long as it is needed.


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