DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE APPROPRIATIONS ACT, 2007 -- (House of Representatives - June 20, 2006)
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Mr. FILNER. Mr. Chairman, I thank the chairman and the ranking member of the committee for this discussion we have had on so many issues today.
As the senior Democratic member of the Veterans Committee, I have been particularly appalled at the loss of 26 1/2 million records of veterans with their Social Security numbers and some medical data plus about 200,000 active duty personnel. So the issue of identity theft I think is on all our minds. And we all know that servicemembers and military retirees are at great risk for identity theft because the Department of Defense puts the Social Security number right on their military ID cards. The DOD is thereby placing millions of servicemembers, military retirees, and their family members at risk for identity theft, and the threat is heightened for servicemembers who must carry this ID with them at all times.
We all know identity theft as being one of the fastest growing crimes of the decade, and it creates a nightmare for the victims who suffer. Identity thieves make off with billions of dollars each year, and each day more than 1,000 people are being defrauded. The Federal Trade Commission recently listed identity theft as the top consumer complaint. With just your name and your Social Security number, a thief can open credit lines worth thousands of dollars, rent apartments, sign up for utilities, earn income, and your credit rating is ruined. You risk being rejected from everything from a college loan to a mortgage, and it is all up to you as an individual to fix it all up. Law enforcement will generally not pursue these identity theft cases.
Sixteen percent of the 13 million victims of identity theft in the last 2 years had their wallets stolen. Anybody who had their ID card in their wallet lost their identity. A military ID is one of those that is generally carried in a wallet. We could have saved 2 million people from the problems of identity theft. Just look at the two individuals who were recently convicted of Federal identity theft after creating 331 fake credit cards in the name of high-ranking military officers. They just found their Social Security numbers and military IDs on a Web site and copied the information from the Congressional Record.
The recent incident at the VA affirms our need to wean the Federal Government from its overreliance on the Social Security number for ID purposes. There seems to be a culture of indifference in many agencies with regard to these numbers. States and universities and health care insurance companies have given up their addiction of Social Security numbers. Why can't we in the Federal Government?
So I hope this issue is taken very seriously. I know Mr. Murtha and Mr. Young are seriously looking at this. I hope they will look at it in conference and as they pursue this bill.
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