Wednesday, May 24

Information breach jeopardizes veterans' security          Send a link to a friend

[MAY 24, 2006]  WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has recently learned that an employee, a data analyst, took home electronic data from VA, which he was not authorized to do. This behavior was in violation of department policies. The data contained identifying information, including names, Social Security numbers and dates of birth for up to 26.5 million veterans and some spouses, as well as some disability ratings. Importantly, the affected data did not include any of VA's electronic health records nor any financial information. The employee's home was burglarized and this data was stolen.

The employee has been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of an investigation.

Appropriate law enforcement agencies, including the FBI and the VA inspector general's office, have launched full-scale investigations into this matter. Authorities believe it is unlikely the perpetrators targeted the items because of any knowledge of the data contents. It is possible that they remain unaware of the information they possess or of how to make use of it. However, out of an abundance of caution, VA is taking all possible steps to protect and inform our veterans.

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VA is working with members of Congress, the news media, veterans service organizations and other government agencies to help ensure that those veterans and their families are aware of the situation and of the steps they may take to protect themselves from misuse of their personal information. VA will send out individual notification letters to veterans to every extent possible.

For information regarding the missing files, go to

[Provided by Curtis Hawk, public relations director, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Department of Illinois]

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