Your identity may be stolen, vets are warned

November 2, 2006

By Bill Hutchinson

The feds are warning hundreds of war veterans that they could become victims of identity theft because a computer was stolen from the Manhattan Veterans Affairs Medical Center.

The computer storing veterans' personal information was snatched Sept. 6 from the E. 23rd St. hospital, according to an Oct. 20 letter sent to veterans.

Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-Manhattan) released the letter yesterday and blasted VA officials for failing to warn veterans sooner.

"The VA seems to be mishandling this situation at every step of the way - first they lost yet another computer, then they waited almost two months to tell veterans that their identities might be at risk," Maloney said.

"When is the VA finally going to get serious about protecting veterans' personal data?"

The latest theft comes after two incidents this year in which VA computers storing information on millions of veterans went missing.

John Donnellan, director of VA New York Harbor Health Care, told veterans in the Oct. 20 letter that the latest stolen computer had been locked to a cart and stored in a locked room.

"Unfortunately sensitive personal information, including your name, Social Security number and possibly a diagnosis is among the information on the computer," Donnellan wrote.

He offered veterans access to a free credit monitor who will alert them if their identities were stolen.

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