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AG Offers Advice To Fellow Veterans On Va Data Security Breach
May 24, 2006
Today Maine Attorney General Steve Rowe issued a statement to Maine veterans regarding the recent revelation of a security breach by U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) personnel. The breach occurred when a VA data analyst took home electronic data from the VA, and the data was stolen from the analyst's home.
The VA has announced that the stolen data contained identifying information including names, social security numbers, and dates of birth for up to 26.5 million living veterans from 1975 to the present and some spouses, as well as some disability ratings.
Attorney General Rowe warned veterans to be alert to the possibility of identity theft. "Identity theft is something that all Maine citizens should be concerned about. Due to this federal security breach, veterans should be particularly concerned," Rowe said.
Noting that both he and his wife are U.S. Army veterans, Rowe added, "My wife and I will be carefully monitoring our financial statements and credit reports. I encourage all other veterans to do the same."
Rowe urged veterans to take immediate steps to monitor their credit card, bank and other financial statements to ensure that no fraudulent charges occur.
Rowe also urged veterans to obtain and carefully review their credit reports.
Rowe advised that veterans (as well as other Mainers) can get a free copy of their credit report once every 12 months from each of the three nationwide consumer bureaus. This can be accomplished by requesting: (1) online at www.annualcreditreport.com; (2) telephonically at 1-877-322-8228; or (3) via mail to: Annual Credit Report Request Service, P.O. Box 105281, Atlanta, GA 30348-5281
Rowe advised that if veterans detect suspicious or unusual activity regarding their financial accounts, they should take the following actions:
- Contact the fraud department of one of the three nationwide consumer credit bureaus and request that a "fraud alert" be placed on the credit file and request that no new credit be granted without the person's express, personal approval. (As long as one of the credit bureaus are contacted, they will automatically contact the other two.) The toll-free numbers are 1-800-525-6285 (Equifax), 1-888-397-3742 (Experian) and 1-800-680-7289 (Trans Union).
- Close any accounts that have been tampered with or opened fraudulently.
- File a report with the person's local police or sheriff's office.
- File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) by calling toll-free at 1-877-ID-THEFT (1-877-438-4338).
Rowe also advised veterans that the Veteran's Administration and the Federal Trade Commission have a website (www.firstgov.gov) with information on the security breach. Veterans can also call 1-800-FED-INFO (1-800-333-4636).
JESSICA MAURER, SPECIAL ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL, 207-626-8515