Akaka questions VA delays and urges credit vigilance
U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka has questioned the head of the Department of Veterans Affairs about why it took so long to inform Congress that a laptop computer containing the names and personal information of 26.5 million veterans had been stolen.
In his letter to Veterans Affairs Secretary James Nicholson, Akaka, a ranking member of Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee, said he is concerned that the VA did not tell veterans immediately after the theft occurred.
"How long has VA known that this information was stolen?" Akaka said in his letter. "Why was the decision made to not inform Congress, and veterans and their families sooner?"
Akaka also asked if it was appropriate for the employee to have this type and amount of data on a laptop computer.
Nicholson, in the Pentagon news release, said the employee, a data analyst, took home a considerable amount of electronic data from the VA, which he was not authorized to do.
The Pentagon said the VA is providing more information through the www.firstgov.gov Web site and call centers that can be reached at 800-333-4636. The call centers will be able to handle more than 250,000 calls a day.
The VA also is encouraging veterans to watch their financial accounts carefully for any signs of fraud or identity theft. If suspicious activity is detected, veterans should contact the fraud department of one of the three major credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian or Trans- Union.