Thursday, May 25, 2006

 

US Veterans Information Stolen

Recently, the US national news services have reported that a laptop computer with the identifying information for 26.5 million US veterans was stolen from a government employee's home. The US agency that the employee worked for is the Department of Veterans Affairs, under the Department of Defense.

Although the theft was reported immediately by the employee, the DVA did not report it to the general public. Three weeks after the theft, the story was "leaked" to the press. At this time, the government can not figure out what to do about the information that was stolen.


Hopefully the thieves have no idea what they have. With names, birth dates, and social security numbers, they could pull off credit fraud at a level never seen before.


If you, or someone you know, have been affected by this theft, it's easy to put a fraud alert on your credit report. Here's how:

1. Call one of the 3 credit companies in the US. That company is required by law to inform the other two companies of the fraud alert.
Equifax: 1-800-525-6285; www.equifax.com; P.O. Box 740241, Atlanta, GA 30374-0241
Experian: 1-888-EXPERIAN (397-3742); www.experian.com; P.O. Box 9532, Allen, TX 75013
TransUnion: 1-800-680-7289; www.transunion.com; Fraud Victim Assistance Division, P.O. Box 6790, Fullerton, CA 92834-6790
2. You will be asked for your social security number, address, phone number, and/or other information to identify you and pull up your credit file.

3. You will be sent confirmation of the INITIAL fraud alert that's been placed on your credit report. (There are two types of fraud alerts, initial and extended. The initial alert stays on your credit report for at least 90 days - and entitles you to one free credit report. The extended alert stays on your credit report for 7 years. You have to have already been a victim of identity theft to use this one.)

4. Check your credit report when you receive it and report anything that's incorrect on it.
For more complete information, the Federal Trade Commission has an easy-to-read website at http://www.consumer.gov/idtheft/

Here's hoping that the thieves don't have a clue about what they got!

Cheers,
Diana

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