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Obama, Durbin Ask VA to Provide Credit Monitoring Services to Veterans Whose Confidential Data was Stolen

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Date:
Location: Washington, DC


OBAMA, DURBIN ASK VA TO PROVIDE CREDIT MONITORING SERVICES TO VETERANS WHOSE CONFIDENTIAL DATA WAS STOLEN

Monday, May 22, 2006

U.S. Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Barack Obama (D-IL) Monday sent a letter to Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Secretary James Nicholson asking that the VA work with major credit bureaus to provide free credit monitoring to veterans whose information was stolen.

"This is an unconscionable breach of trust that needs to be made right," Durbin and Obama wrote. "The VA needs to move quickly with other agencies to protect veterans who may be victims of identity theft. In other recent high-profile incidents where personal data was compromised, major U.S. firms like Citibank, Choice Point, and Bank of America quickly responded to their customers by offering free credit monitoring to victims so they are able to watch their credit reports daily for signs of misuse. If we do nothing, veterans who have already used their federally mandated, no-cost look at their credit report will have to use other services that are available from the credit bureaus, and cost approximately $10 to $20 a month."

The Senators sent the letter to Secretary Nicholson in response to reports that employee data on 26.5 million veterans had been stolen from the residence of a VA employee who was not authorized to have taken the information out of the building.

Senator Obama serves on the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee. Senator Durbin is the Assistant Democratic Leader and serves on the Appropriations Committee which funds the VA.

Below, please find the full text of the letter:

May 22, 2005

The Honorable James Nicholson
Secretary of Veterans Affairs
810 Vermont Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20420

Dear Mr. Secretary:

On Monday, May 22, 2006, the Department of Veterans Affairs announced that an employee had taken home data on 26.5 million veterans, and that data was stolen. We write today to urge you to work with the three major credit bureaus to provide credit monitoring for these veterans for a period of time, without charging the veterans for new credit reports. This is an unconscionable breach of trust that needs to be made right.

The VA needs to move quickly with other agencies to protect veterans who may be victims of identity theft. In other recent high-profile incidents where personal data was compromised, major U.S. firms like Citibank, Choice Point, and Bank of America quickly responded to their customers by offering free credit monitoring to victims so they are able to watch their credit reports daily for signs of misuse. If we do nothing, veterans who have already used their federally mandated, no-cost look at their credit report will have to use other services that are available from the credit bureaus, and cost approximately $10 to $20 a month. We believe the VA can work with the credit bureaus on a better approach that does not cause such a cost to our nation's veterans.

If you work with the credit bureaus to provide our veterans with credit monitoring for a period of time, all veterans who have been affected by this incident will have a greater chance to prevent damage to their financial well being and disruption to their lives. While this effort will not prevent every instance of fraud that may occur, it would provide our veterans with an early warning to help protect their identity and their assets. The VA also needs to ensure that veterans have access to robust credit counseling. Many veterans may not be financial experts and do not know what to look for when it comes to a crime as complex as identity theft.

Thank you in advance for your prompt attention to this matter and for your continued dedication to our nation's veterans, including the nearly one million veterans who call Illinois home.

Sincerely,

Richard J. Durbin
United States Senator

Barack Obama
United States Senator

http://durbin.senate.gov/record.cfm?id=255983&&

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