Personal Data of 26.5 Million Veterans Stolen

The personal data of 26.5 millions veterans has been stolen because a VA employee took it home and was burglarized.

Thieves took sensitive personal information on 26.5 million U.S. veterans, including Social Security numbers and birth dates, after a Veterans Affairs employee improperly brought the material home, the government said Monday. The information involved mainly those veterans who served and have been discharged since 1975, said VA Secretary Jim Nicholson. Data of veterans discharged before 1975 who submitted claims to the agency may have been included.

Nicholson said there was no evidence the thieves had used the data for identity theft, and an investigation was continuing. “It’s highly probable that they do not know what they have,” he said in a briefing with reporters. “We have decided that we must exercise an abundance of caution and make sure our veterans are aware of this incident.”

[…]

“I want to emphasize there was no medical records of any veteran and no financial information of any veteran that’s been compromised,” Nicholson said, although he added later that some information on the veterans’ disabilities may have been taken.

Of course, the only reason it wasn’t taken is that the VA doesn’t have that info.

The VA said it was notifying members of Congress and the individual veterans about the burglary. It has set up a call center at 1-800-FED-INFO and Web site, http://www.firstgov.gov, for veterans who believe their information has been misused.

The good news is that the burglars likely have no clue what they have (unless they read it in the newspapers). Still, I second Rep. Lane Evans’ sentiment thatm “It is a mystifying and gravely serious concern that a VA data analyst would be permitted to just walk out the VA door with such information.”

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. LJD says:

    burglars likely have no clue what they have (unless they read it in the newspapers)

    Oh great. I’ll sleep much better now.

    I can’t wait to see a south-of-the-border version of myself on my next trip to the southwest.

  2. DC Loser says:

    More likely a PG County version buying big screens at Best Buy with your credit cards.

  3. legion says:

    Huh. I used to do DBA stuff for a living. Depending on what format the data was in, it could have gone home on just a few CDs. But what in the seven hells was that analyst doing with it?!? I could imagine taking some data home to experiment with some different ways of manipulating things, that he didn’t have time to at work. But there’s next to zero chance this guy had a computer at home even remotely capable of dealing with this much data.

    I hereby officially predict we will find out during the investigation that the analyst involved is dirty, and that the burglary was just a cover. But that’s just my own wild speculation…

  4. Stevely says:

    legion – I believe you will be found to be correct, here.

    26.5 million data files taken home to work? Puh-leeeze.