Brooklyn- State Senator Martin Golden (R-C-I, 22nd District) today urged veterans concerned that their personal information may have been stolen to contact the federal government’s special call center 1-800-FED-INFO or to visit the official government portal www.firstgov.gov or the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs at www.va.gov/opa. The call center and websites provide information to determine if veterans’ identification is being used to commit identity theft crimes or fraud, and where to report suspicious or unusual activity.
Senator Golden, a member of the Senate Standing Committee on Veterans, Homeland Security and Military Affairs, said, "Veterans need to know the best steps to take if they suspect that they may be the victim of identity theft crimes. I urge all veterans to phone the call center or, if they have access to a computer, to visit these websites."
Senator Marty Golden’s recommendation comes in response to the news that thieves recently stole U.S. Veterans Affairs electronic data containing the Social Security numbers and birth dates of 26.5 million veterans across the nation, who are now at risk of having their credit compromised or even destroyed.
The Department of Veterans Affairs asks that all veterans be extra vigilant and carefully monitor bank statements, credit card statements and any other financial statements. Suspicious activity should be reported immediately to the financial institution involved or veterans should contact the Federal Trade Commission. Veterans should also note that the earliest date at which suspicious activity might have occurred is in May 2006, when the theft occurred.
Senator Golden today also called on the federal government to adopt a law, similar to one already in place in New York, requiring that individuals be notified by mail when their private information is stolen.
Last year, in response to the growing problem of identity theft, New York State enacted the Information Security Breach and Notification Act, requiring that consumers be informed in writing whenever an unauthorized person acquires their private information via computerized data so that they can take precautionary measures to prevent becoming victims of identity theft.
Senator Marty Golden continued, "The onus to find out whose personal information was stolen should be placed on the VA, not on our veterans, some of whom are in their 80’s and 90’s. It should be the responsibility of the VA to contact, in writing, each and every one of those veterans whose personal information has been violated as soon as possible."
Identity theft is a growing problem that can have a devastating effect on an individual’s finances, taking years to recover.