HOLT COSPONSORS LEGISLATION TO HELP VETERANS GUARD AGAINST IDENTITY THEFT
Representative Rush Holt (NJ-12) today signed onto legislation that would provide all veterans with one year of free credit monitoring in order to help detect potential identity theft in the wake of the Department of Veterans Affairs' (VA) compromise of sensitive personal data of 26.5 million veterans, the largest such data loss in American history.
"Veterans should not have to pay a financial price for the VA's carelessness with their personal data," said Holt. "If Congress is serious about helping protect veterans from identity theft, it should pass this bill before Memorial Day."
Earlier this week, the VA acknowledged that in early May, a department employee took home a data file containing the names and Social Security numbers of every living veteran. The computer containing the data was subsequently stolen, and a criminal investigation is now underway.
In response, Holt is co-sponsoring "The Veterans Identity Protection Act of 2006" (H.R. 5455), authored by Representative John Salazar (D-CO). The legislation would:
Provide one year of free credit monitoring to affected individuals;
Provide one free credit report each year for two years after the end of credit monitoring, in addition to the free credit report available under the Fair Credit Reporting Act; and
Authorize $1.25 billion in emergency funds for the first year of implementation.
Holt also said he welcomed the announcement that the Congress would hold hearings on the incident.
"We need to know why a VA employee was allowed to take this kind of sensitive data home in the first place, and we need to make sure it never happens again," said Holt. "We also need to know why the VA kept the theft of the personal data secret for two weeks after it was stolen. The VA has a lot of work to do to restore the trust of veterans and the Congress in its ability to protect sensitive personal data."