How Many Weeks Does It Take To Tell A Veteran His Identity Has Been Stolen?

You know, we cursorily mentioned the fact that the authorities investigating the theft of the laptop that resulted in the names, addresses and social security numbers of every living veteran being stolen waited three weeks to alert the public. But it took awhile for that to sink in.

The authorities’ concern, we admit, was understandable: the last thing they wanted to do was tip off the thief that the laptop he’d just purloined to exchange for a hunk of rock was, in fact, worth millions on the identity theft black market. They hoped to recover the laptop before the crook could figure it out. Or so they claim — we suspect there was some ass covering involved as well.

But when the lives and finances of 26 million Americans are at stake, you can’t just sit around, cross your fingers and hope everything comes out okay. Those people were vulnerable from the moment that laptop went home with some idiot employee, let alone the second it was stolen. It’s their lives: they deserved to be informed, so they could start protecting themselves. Because god knows the people they trusted to protect them couldn’t.

Now three weeks have gone by. If damage is going to be done to these people, it’s already been done. Way to go.

Investigators Kept VA Data Theft Secret for Three Weeks
Previously: Are Identity Thieves Targeting Idiot Employees?
Previously: Data on Millions of Veterans Stolen

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  1. QuasiInformed says:

    I can see this from the perspective of the VA. A data base of 26 million records is not going to be readily accessible to even a moderately knowledgeable computer user. A data base that massive cannot be accessed with any program general users have experienced (e.g., MS Office); it would not be as simple as double clicking on an icon. The best opportunity to prevent misuse of the data was to obscure the knowledge of what the crackhead had in his/her possesion.

    If the ability to “freeze” your credit was more widespread (only 9 states have such laws in effect, with another 8 becoming effective in the next year or so), immediate notification may have actually been useful. I can see where the best chance to prevent real damage was to have the laptop/disk show up in a pawn shop/trash can.

  2. AcidReign says:

    …..Unless they encrypted the data, there’s a little utility out there call BinText that will basically show any text contained in any file. If the file fits on the laptop harddrive, then it’s not too big to be opened that way.