by Lane Roberts
Castle Pines North is home to many veterans and other military service members who could become victims of identity theft.
This summer, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) had the personal information of more than 26.5 million veterans, active duty service members, Reservists, National Guard, and spouses, stolen from an employee’s laptop computer. The stolen data included names, social security numbers and dates of birth. Affected data did not include any of the VA’s electronic health records or financial information.
Veterans, Reservists, and Active Duty service members should be extra vigilant in monitoring for signs of potential identity theft or misuse of this information.
Report Suspicious or Unusual Activity
Carefully monitor bank statements, credit card statements or any other statements related to financial transactions. Also, request a credit report from one of the three credit bureaus listed below. Many veterans have also placed “fraud alerts” on their name with credit bureaus.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recommends the following four steps if you detect suspicious activity:
1. Contact the fraud department at one of the three major credit bureaus:
Equifax – 1-800-525-6285, www.equifax.com
Experian – 1-888-EXPERIAN, www.experian.com
TransUnion – 1-800-680-7289, www.transunion.com
2. Close any accounts that have been tampered with or opened fraudulently.
3. File a police report with the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office.
4. File a complaint with the FTC at 1-877-438-4338, www.consumer.gov/idtheft.
Also, beware of phone calls or e-mails claiming to be from the VA, asking to verify personal information. This is known as information soliciting or “phishing.” The VA or any other government agency will not contact veterans to confirm personal information.
The stolen data was recently recovered and did not appear to have been compromised; however, all veterans should continue to closely monitor finances.
The VA has a special website and phone number for veterans, which features up-to-date news and information. Please visit www.firstgov.gov or call 1-800-FED-INFO for more information.