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June 02, 2006

Veterans ID Protection Act

Color me unimpressed.

Rep. John Salazar (D. Colo.) has introduced the Veterans Identity Protection Act of 2006. This bill will require the Veteran's Administration to provide one year of free credit monitoring and a free annual credit report for the next two years to veterans who are affected by the recent theft of personal data contained on a laptop a VA employee had no business taking home. The measure also seeks to authorize $1.25 billion (that's billion, folks) to implement the program for the first year.

The bill has 92 co-sponsors. 89 are Democrats, 2 are Republicans, and the House's lone Independent have signed on as cosponsors. (Click here if you want to explore the names and districts)

I don't know Representative Salazar well, so I'll take a leap of faith here and assume, based on his website, that he's friendly to veteran's issues. Those who follow these things more closely can comment if they wish.

Examining this bill, I'm baffled. It's either;

1. A cynical attempt to splashily jump on the issue, embarrass the Administration, and isn't a piece of serious legislation, other than to smack the Administration while riding on the backs of veterans. Which is too bad, if Representative Salazar is in fact the friend of vets he portrays himself to be? Co-sponsors, knowing this, can safely jump on it and will use it to give themselves vet-cred in the upcoming election cycle, risking nothing for a shameless prostitution of themselves and a cynical manipulation of their constituents. Or,

2. These people are too stupid/ignorant to be allowed near the levers of power.

Ike Skelton (among others in the sponsorship list) is defense-savvy, and not stupid. He was my Representative for my entire career before I retired and officially was out of his district. So, I have to assume that as a vet, I'm being rode hard, put up wet - and they think I'm ignorant, or stupid, or both. For some co-sponsors, we know it's both.

How else to explain that they want to spend 1.25 billion dollars to pay for a service any of the affected veterans can get... for free. Simply by making a few telephone calls. It took me all of 30 minutes to request the credit reports and put a credit watch on my social security number with the 3 credit reporting agencies. And it didn't cost me a dime.

Even if we assume (wrongly) that all 26.5 million potentially affected veterans are alive and therefore vulnerable, they want to spend roughly 50 dollars each for a service already provided for free.

Heh. I'll take that 1.25 billion if they really want to spend it. They could plow that into the medical accounts and upgrade those services, rather than pay to provide a service you can already get, for free.

As I said, color me unimpressed. There are plenty of serious reasons to spend that money - this just isn't one of them. Fund the VA to do the outreach to tell veterans to get their free credit reports and establish the credit watch - and then with the remaining 1.24 billion, take care of those Who Bore The Burden, not pay some middleman to do work that doesn't need doing.

Ya wanna credit report, and establish an extended credit watch?

Here, provided free, as a public service:

How do I request a "fraud alert" be placed on my file if I believe I may be affected by the recent Veterans Affairs data security breach? You have the right to ask that nationwide consumer credit reporting companies place "fraud alerts" in your file to let potential creditors and others know that you may be a victim of identity theft. A fraud alert can make it more difficult for someone to get credit in your name because it tells creditors to follow certain procedures to protect you. It also may delay your ability to obtain credit. You may place a fraud alert in your file by calling just one of the three nationwide consumer credit reporting companies. As soon as that agency processes your fraud alert, it will notify the other two, which then also must place fraud alerts in your file. Equifax: 1-877-576-5734; www.equifax.com Experian: 1-888-397-3742; www.experian.com/fraud TransUnion: 1-800-680-7289; www.transunion.com

An initial fraud alert stays in your file for at least 90 days. An extended alert stays in your file for seven years. To place either of these alerts, a consumer credit reporting company will require you to provide appropriate proof of your identity, which may include your Social Security number. If you ask for an extended alert, you will have to provide an identity theft report. An identity theft report includes a copy of a report you have filed with a federal, state, or local law enforcement agency. For more detailed information about the identity theft report, visit www.consumer.gov/idtheft.

What is a credit file disclosure?
A credit file disclosure provides you with all of the information in your credit file maintained by a consumer reporting company that could be provided by the consumer reporting company in a consumer report about you to a third party, such as a lender. A credit file disclosure also includes a record of everyone who has received a consumer report about you from the consumer reporting company within a certain period of time ("inquiries"). The credit file disclosure includes certain information that is not included in a consumer report about you to a third party, such as the inquiries of companies for pre-approved offers of credit or insurance and account reviews, and any medical account information which is suppressed for third party users of consumer reports. You are entitled to receive a disclosure copy of your credit file from a consumer reporting company under Federal law and the laws of various states.
How often can I request a free credit file disclosure through this website?
You are entitled to receive one free credit file disclosure every 12 months from each of the nationwide consumer credit reporting companies – Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. This free credit file can be requested through this website, by phone or by mail.

Extracted from from the VA Data Security tab at AnnualCreditReport.com, the site established by TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax.

Dear Congressman Salazar - you can put my $50 towards VA Healthcare services.

John | Permalink | Comments (3) | Politics
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