By Debbie Gregory.
On January 15th, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) experienced a software glitch on their website that could have affected 5,300+ Veterans using the VA’s eBenefits system. The glitch occurred in the VA website’s benefits portal. The malfunction allowed the websites users to view other users’ private information.
Users who were logged in were able to see other Veterans’ bank information, disability claims, education and medical benefits records, military records and other confidential information. The snafu was brought to the VA’s attention when approximately 20 Veterans notified VA reps that they were seeing other peoples’ information when they logged in to the site.
The VA shut down their site when they were made aware of the problem. The site was brought back online on the 19th. The VA issued a report on the matter, saying that it “conducted a full review of the software issue and reinforced its security posture.” The report also stated that the “defect had been remedied and the portal was functioning properly.” The VA offered its sincere apologies to everyone impacted by the glitch and the site closure.
It is unknown exactly how many Veterans had their information compromised. The VA is still trying to determine that number. There are also no reports yet claiming incidents of identity theft or fraud as a result of the glitch. There is only one report from one of the Veterans who initially reported the matter to the VA that he may have changed someone else’s information before he realized there was a problem.
It is recommended that everyone, especially Veterans, run regular checks of their bank statements and credit scores for fraudulent activity and identity theft. Aside from the free credit scores offered by the three major credit bureaus, there are a multitude of services and protections that are available at varying costs. Make sure that the service you subscribe to is reputable, and monitors all 3 credit bureaus.
In today’s information age, our personal data is everywhere. Make sure that you safe-guard your identity. This is especially important for Veterans, whose benefits are associated with their social security number.