By Javier Centonzio
Recently, several news outlets have reported a significant problem with VA identification card security, also known as Veterans Identification Cards (VIC). Anyone with a smart phone and a barcode reader application can simply scan the barcode on the front of a veteran’s VIC and reveal that veteran’s social security number. Many veterans are outraged at the VA for this problem because it makes them vulnerable to identity theft.
Apparently the VA has known about this issue since 2011 when they first released a warning about this problem on their website. The warning reads “[v]eterans are warned to keep their VIC safe and secure. Some bar code readers, including those available as applications on cell phones, can scan the bar code on the front of the card, and reveal the Veteran’s social security number. This could make the Veteran subject to identity theft if the card is lost or stolen.” However, the VA has not made any efforts to directly notify veterans of this security risk.
This is not the first time that the VA has failed to protect the sensitive information of those veterans who entrusted the VA to protect their information. In May 2006 a laptop containing sensitive personal information of 26.5 million veterans and military personnel was stolen from the home of a VA employee and later recovered. The federal officials who recovered the laptop said that the information had apparently not been accessed.
A spokesperson from the VA said that there are plans to release a new VIC that does not contain a Social Security number. In the meantime, veterans everywhere are warned to safeguard their VIC and treat it as if it were their Social Security card. Some have suggested leaving the card in a safe place at home and taking it with you only on days where you have an appointment at the VA.”
At Bosley & Bratch, we proudly serve veterans from all branches nationwide. If you need assistance with a VA benefits claim, we are here to help. Call us at (800) 953-6224 or complete our free veterans benefits case evaluation form.