Thursday, October 6, 2011
Another Incident of Veterans' Personal Information Being Stolen
Over the last few years there have been several instances of personally identifying information being stolen from trusted sources. It happened at the VA in 2008, the Army's Fort Belvoir in Virginia in 2009, and this time, 4.6 million Tricare beneficiaries’ data was stolen last month from a locked car in Texas. The information was stored on tapes that were being transferred between government facilities by a Science Applications International Corp (SAIC) employee, however, in most instances the confidential information was stored on laptops.
This most recent theft of Social Security numbers, addresses, phone numbers and health data including data from patients seen at military treatment facilities in San Antonio between 1992 and Sept. 7, 2011, as well as those who filled prescriptions or had lab tests processed at San Antonio-area military health facilities during the same period were contained on backup tapes of Tricare electronic health records.
According to a statement released Thursday by McLean, Va.,-based SAIC, there has been no indication that the data has been misused and the tapes contained no financial data, credit card information or bank account numbers. But thieves can use information such as names and Social Security numbers to obtain credit cards and acquire loans.
While beneficiaries can place a free 90-day fraud alert on their credit by registering with the Federal Trade Commission, I wonder when this rash of incidents will come to an end. Since that question is impossible to answer, what can we do to prevent this from occurring?
What we can do is demand that our private information be guarded more closely. Maybe it isn't a good idea to transport this type of information in a personal vehicle. And if that can not be avoided, then the driver should not be allowed to make any pit stops between drop-ff and pick-up facilities. Unfortunately, that would only cover transporting documents, and not theft that occurs in actual facilities/buildings. With that said, I believe that we should all keep a closer watch on our credit and initiate those fraud alerts as often as the FTC allows.
What do you think? Leave your comments below.