RealTime IT News

Thieves Bag Data on 26.5M Vets

Personal data on more than 26 million veterans is at risk of identity theft after a Department of Veterans Affairs' (VA) employee's home was burglarized and the data stolen.

The data contained names, social security numbers and dates of birth, as well as some disability ratings.

According to the VA, the data did not include any of the VA's electronic health records or any financial information on the veterans.

The employee, the VA said, was not authorized to take the data home. The employee has been placed on administrative leave.

Various law enforcement agencies, including the FBI and the VA's Inspector General's Office, have launched investigations into the theft.

"It is possible that they (the thieves) remain unaware of the information they possess or how to make use of it," the VA said in a Monday statement.

"However, out of an abundance of caution, the VA is taking all possible steps to protect and inform our veterans."

The VA also informed President Bush's new Identity Theft Task Force, which was announced earlier this month.

According to the VA, the task force is already working with credit bureaus so that veterans will receive the free credit report they are entitled to under the law.

In addition, the task force is meeting Monday to recommend further ways to coordinate a federal response.

The VA said it would send out notification letters to affected veterans "to every extent possible."

The VA has also set up a manned call center that veterans may contact.