VA Must Restore Confidence with Military Veterans

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VA to hire a firm to ensure veterans’ personal data not being used by criminals

During a hearing of the U.S. Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, Chairman Larry Craig (R-Idaho) said that the Department of Veterans Affairs has a long way to go to restore the trust of America’s veterans in the aftermath of stolen computer material containing the personal information of 26.5 million veterans.

That computer and hard drive have since been recovered, and both the VA’s Office of Inspector General and FBI have indicated with”high confidence” that the data was not breached. But to be sure, VA Secretary Jim Nicholson said his agency will soon hire a leading data analysis company to ensure the data is not being used by criminals.

The service would include complex monitoring of multiple data sources to detect patterns of irregularities regarding the personal data of our nation’s veterans…

     

Nicholson said VA will soon put the project up for bid from private firms. Under questioning from Sen. Craig about the costs, Nicholson said the data breach analysis service would be “surprisingly inexpensive,” but indicated he did not want to state a number so as to not sway the bidding process. He said that VA has the money it needs to pay for the service without cutting other services.

Prior to the recovery of the computer and hard drive, VA officials had requested an additional $160 million to provide free credit monitoring to veterans. But on Tuesday White House budget director Rob Portman sent a letter to the Speaker of the House of Representatives rescinding that request.

“On the basis of the FBI’s analysis, the administration has concluded that credit monitoring services and the associated funding will no longer be necessary,” Portman said in his letter. Craig said that he supports that decision to not proceed with the free credit monitoring for veterans as long as he has the assurances that our veterans personal information has not been compromised.

“The second-best option was always free credit monitoring. The best option, of course, was to recover the computer and external hard drive. We achieved the best option by recovering the hardware and data,” Craig said.

Nicholson said that veterans and other members of the public can receive 90 days of free credit monitoring from any of the credit agencies, as well as free credit reports. Those companies can be contacted at:

Experian: 888-397-3742 Online at http://www.experian.com

TransUnion: 800-680-7289 Online at http://www.transunion.com

Equifax: 877-576-5734 Online at http://www.equifax.com

 

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