Texas AG Urges Veterans to Protect Credit

Because of the recent theft of information on millions of military veterans from the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Texas Attorney General is urging veterans to go on the offensive and take steps to protect themselves from identity theft. Houston Public Radio's Jim Bell reports.

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Personal information on more than 26 million veterans was recently stolen from the home of a Veterans Affairs employee -- who has been fired, along with the deputy assistant secretary who didn't tell top VA officials about the theft for several weeks. Meanwhile, state officials all over the country are letting veterans know what they can do about it. Texas Attorney-General's office spokesman Tom Kelly says people shouldn't wait to become a victim.

"Be proactive about it. Certainly monitor your accounts very closely. The Veterans Affairs Department has issued an 800 number for any veteran to call. That's 1-800-FED-INFO, so you can find out if your information may have been compromised, or what steps you may need to take further."

Kelly says the Texas AG has created an Identity Theft Victim's Kit to help people begin the process of recovering from it, financially and legally. It includes all the forms necessary to restore credit and prevent being victimized again. Kelly says veterans should also call the fraud department at any one of the three credit reporting agencies -- Experian, Equifax, or Transunion.

"Request a fraud alert so that they can red flag that account and keep an eye on it, and they would be able to notify the veteran quickly when they do determine something is going on that's unlawful. It's just really really important to do this quickly if you believe, or have any reason to believe that your information has been compromised."

A fraud alert requires creditors to contact you personally if someone tries to open a credit account in your name. Kelly says veterans who've already filed an identity theft criminal complaint, should consider putting a security freeze on their credit file, which means no one can access the file without your permission. There's more information in a link to the Attorney General's office on our website KUHF dot Org. Jim Bell, Houston Public Radio News.