Social Security Numbers of 26 Million Vets Stolen - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

05/23/06

Social Security Numbers of 26 Million Vets Stolen

You know the horror stories: someone steals your identity, and your financial world falls apart. The thieves often start with your social security number, and get all kinds of information.

Now, millions of our military veterans have to worry. Someone stole their personal information in a home burglary. A worker took the data home with him, even though he wasn't supposed to, and someone broke into his house and took it.

Veterans in Savannah say they're going to do what they can to make sure all local veterans understand what's going on.

With more than 26 million veterans' names and social security numbers on the missing list, local veterans groups started thinking quickly about what to do.

"We have information channels to about 26,000 veterans in Chatham County," said Don Ernst with the Veterans Council of Chatham County.

"We have 29 organizations, and we'll get the word out," said Jimmy Ray of the American Legion Post 36, who also sits on the veterans council.

The Department of Veterans Affairs says it's not sure if the person who stole the data even knows what they've got, but it wants people to know that the information has gone missing.

"That's the scary part of this loss of all this information, is who's going to have their hands on it," said Ray.

The Veterans Council of Chatham County is particularly concerned about some of its older members, since identity thieves often target the elderly. "We still have a lot of World War II veterans and Korean War veterans," Ray told us. "They're the gentlemen and ladies that are oldest and they're more vulnerable than the younger generation."

For the most part, though, the veterans council says it's good they know about the situation now, so they can keep a good watch out for problems.

"Overall, I don't think it's going to be a huge problem, if people maintain vigilance," said Ernst.

The federal government says none of the information that's been stolen had health or financial records.

Reported by: Chris Cowperthwaite, ccowperthwaite@wtoc.com

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