• United States



by Dave Gradijan

Bush Administration Cancels Free Credit Monitoring for Veterans

Jul 18, 20062 mins
CSO and CISOData and Information Security

Free credit monitoring, originally offered to veterans whose personal information was stolen, has been withdrawn after the equipment with the data was recovered and the FBI concluded that the information was not compromised, the Associated Press reports on

The article states that in a letter, White House Budget Director Rob Portman told House Speaker Dennis Hastert that he was canceling his office’s request from last month for $160.5 million in funding for the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to give millions of veterans and active-duty troops one year of free credit monitoring.

He stated that the FBI’s “high degree of confidence” in its decision that the stolen laptop and external drive were not accessed prompted his decision, the AP reports.

“On the basis of the FBI’s analysis, the administration has concluded that credit monitoring services and the associated funding will no longer be necessary,” Portman wrote.

According to the AP, Portman’s announcement came as the House Veterans Affairs Committee was considering legislation to give credit protection and strengthen information security because of the May 3 theft of 26.5 million veterans’ and active-duty troops’ personal information.

However, veterans groups feel they should still have free monitoring, noting there is no certainty that the information was not compromised, the AP reports. They have also criticized the VA for not strengthening security sooner, especially after numerous warnings by auditors that information security was lax, and say that other breaches are likely to happen.

A report last week blasted the VA analyst whose laptop was stolen and his supervisors for poor judgment, and said that dramatic reform is needed.

VA spokesman Matt Burns told the AP that although credit monitoring won’t be offered, the department is planning to hire a company to provide data breach analysis to detect potential patterns of misuse of veterans’ information. The analysis will be paid for out of current VA funds that will not result in a “diminution in the quality of health care.”

Compiled by Paul Kerstein

For more information, read Data Theft at the VA.

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