Identity protection urged for vets after Dorn VA laptop goes mis - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina

Identity protection urged for vets after Dorn VA laptop goes missing

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) -

More than 7,000 veterans are being urged to sign up for identity theft protection after an unsecured laptop at the Dorn VA Respiratory Therapy Department went missing in February.

The missing laptop is concerning for all veterans using the hospital. We were told the information on that laptop was not encrypted and could be accessible. While information on most VA computer is encrypted, because this was attached to a medical device it wasn't.

"It's concerning because all your information is being broadcast or stolen or whatever it," said veteran John Glymph. "Not saying that they're going to use it."

"They should protect it more," said fellow veteran Samuel Isaac.

Inside that laptop were veterans full names, the last four digits of their Social Security number, and their age, race, and weight. It's enough to potentially compromise someone.

As more information becomes portable, it has Consumer Affairs Department officials warning businesses who use laptops, tablets, and thumb drives.

"Certainly businesses and agencies state or federal should have some protocol in place to make sure that those items are being secured," said Carri Grube Lybarker from the state Consumer Affairs Department.

Going forward, Dorn is promising to physically protect all laptops on medical devices and staff have been told to securely store and purge all personally identifiable information from devices.  Veterans are being offered credit protection through Equifax.

"They're being notified for a reason, and it's better to be safe than sorry and go ahead and take advantage of the free monitoring, the fraud alert security freezes while you can," said Lybarker.

Veterans hope this incident has taught the hospital a valuable lesson, and Lybarker reminds everyone to be vigilant and ask questions before handing over your identifying information.

"It's also the consumers knowing that you need to protect your information too and get a copy of those policies when you're asked for your personal identifying information to see how it's going to be stored and taken care of," said Lybarker.

Copyright 2013 WIS. All rights reserved.

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