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- 07-19-2006, 04:18 PM #1
No Free Credit monitoring for Vets and GIsNo free credit monitoring for veterans, GIs
July 19, 2006
BY HOPE YEN
WASHINGTON -- The government said Tuesday it would no longer offer free credit monitoring for up to 26.5 million veterans whose sensitive information was stolen since the data had been recovered.
The announcement came one week after the FBI determined with what it said was a ''high degree of confidence'' that the information stored on a Veterans Affairs employee's laptop and external drive had not been accessed. Still, it drew a protest from veterans groups.
''We are outraged that the administration would renege on its offer of one free year of credit monitoring,'' said Bob Wallace, executive director of Veterans of Foreign Wars. ''There is no 100 percent assurance that the laptop was not compromised.''
'Honor the promise'
Steve Robertson, legislative director of the American Legion, said many of its members had already signed up for credit monitoring, expecting to be reimbursed. For those veterans, he said, officials ''need to ... honor the promise they made.''.
In a letter Tuesday to House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert, White House budget director Rob Portman cited the FBI analysis and said he was canceling a request for $160.5 million to pay for credit monitoring.
VA spokesman Matt Burns said the department planned to hire a company to provide data breach analysis to detect potential patterns of misuse of veterans' information.
Veterans groups and lawmakers from both parties have criticized the VA for lax data security and for waiting nearly three weeks to notify veterans after the burglary at a VA employee's home.
At a Tuesday hearing, VA deputy secretary Gordon Mansfield said the VA was committed to reform but legislation proposed after the burglary -- some of which would require warnings to veterans and credit protection in the event of a data breach -- is no longer necessary.
The laptop and external drive were recovered June 28 after an informant, responding to a $50,000 reward offer, turned in the equipment. No arrests have been made.