- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 9, 2006

ASSOCIATED PRESS

Millions of veterans and active-duty troops whose sensitive personal information was lost by the Veterans Affairs Department (VA) will receive some form of credit protection against identity theft, the government said yesterday.

Separately, the Transportation Department inspector general’s office said that one of its laptop computers containing names, birth dates and Social Security numbers for 132,955 Florida residents was stolen July 27 from a government vehicle in suburban Miami.

Transportation officials were helping police investigate the theft of the laptop, which was stolen in Doral, Fla. It is thought to contain data for 80,667 persons issued commercial driver’s licenses in the Miami-Dade County area; 42,792 Florida residents holding airman certificates; and 9,496 individuals who obtained personal or commercial driver’s licenses in Largo near Tampa.

The laptop was protected by a password, and there was no evidence the data has been used illegally, the department said.

VA Secretary Jim Nicholson said his department had arranged for a data analysis company to detect potential patterns of credit misuse for up to 26.5 million veterans whose names, birth dates and Social Security numbers were on a laptop and hard drive taken last May from a VA data analyst’s Maryland home.

VA subcontractor Unisys Corp. also agreed to provide one year of free credit monitoring for as many as 38,000 veterans after the company last week lost a desktop computer containing their data at its offices in Reston.

Letters will be sent in coming days to veterans affected in the Unisys case describing how to sign up for the free credit monitoring.

“Protecting veterans from fraud and abuse remains an important priority for VA,” Mr. Nicholson said. “Data breach analysis will provide VA with additional assurances that veterans’ personal information remains unharmed.”

The VA said ID Analytics of San Diego will provide the extra level of protection for those whose records were taken in the May 3 burglary.

In that case, the FBI recovered the laptop and hard drive and determined with a “high degree of confidence” that the data wasn’t accessed or copied. Two teens were arrested last Saturday in what now appears to have been a routine burglary.

ID Analytics will provide an initial analysis of several industries to determine whether there has been any suspicious activity involving the veterans’ information. It then will provide follow-up reports every three months for an unspecified period at no cost to veterans or the government, the VA said.

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