Veterans director: ‘This is major’

Published 1:34 pm Thursday, May 25, 2006

By By ANDY HAMILTON / Niles Daily Star
NILES - Don Olivia has been given little information concerning the veterans information reported missing earlier this week.
The Director of Berrien County Veterans Affairs said Wednesday representatives at the organization's national level have been “very low key.”
The VA announced earlier this week an employee in Maryland took home a laptop computer containing information on names, social security numbers and birth dates for up to 26.5 million veterans and their spouses. The computer was later stolen out of the VA employee's home and is still missing.
The actual date the information went missing was not released by the VA. Law enforcement agencies including the FBI and the VA Inspector General's office have launched an investigation into the issue. A report in the Washington Post Tuesday stated the majority of the information lost pertained to veterans discharged after 1975 and their spouses. But, there may also have been information on veterans who were discharged before that year and filed claims for VA benefits.
The VA said the missing data did not include any health records or financial information and the organization has not released the date the information was stolen, only that the burglary occurred in the month of May. Olivia said the only information he received from the VA was phone numbers for concerned veterans to call and an official statement from Secretary of Veterans Affairs, R. James Nicholson.
Olivia said his office has received some phone calls but not as many as expected. The Berrien County VA covers at least 15,000 veterans, Olivia said. “This is major. They have vital information on these veterans, and I'm included,” said Olivia, a veteran of the war in Vietnam. Veterans Affairs has established a toll-free phone number that features up-to-date news and information for veterans: 1-800-FED-INFO (1-800-333-4636).
The VA said the Federal Trade Commission recommended the following four steps for veterans who detect suspicious activity:
Step 1 – Contact the fraud department of one of the three major credit bureaus:
Equifax: 1-800-525-6285;; P.O. Box 740241, Atlanta, Ga., 30374-0241
Experian: 1-888-EXPERIAN (397-3742);; P.O. Box 9532, Allen, Texas 75013
TransUnion: 1-800-680-7289;; Fraud Victim Assistance Division, P.O. Box 6790, Fullerton, Calif., 92834-6790
Step 2 – Close any accounts that have been tampered with or opened fraudulently.
Step 3 – File a police report with your local police or the police in the community where the identity theft took place.
Step 4 – File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission by using the FTCs Identity Theft Hotline by telephone: 1-877-438-4338, online at, or by mail at Identity Theft Clearinghouse, Federal Trade Commission, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington D.C. 20580.