Sept. 14 (UPI) — A data breach involving personal information of about 46,000 veterans was announced on Monday by the Department of Veterans Affairs.
The Federal Services Center, the VA’s finance department, discovered that financial information “was accessed by unauthorized users to divert payments to community health care providers for the medical treatment of veterans,” a VA statement on Monday said in part.
It added that a “comprehensive security review” is underway, but did not specify when the breach was discovered, which computer application was affected or which veterans’ Social Security numbers were involved in the breach.
The FSC has alerted those affected by mail, including next-of-kin of deceased veterans, of the potential risk to personal information. It will also provide free access to credit monitoring services to those whose Social Security numbers were involved.
“Veterans whose information was involved are advised to follow the instructions in the letter to protect their data. There is no action needed from veterans if they did not receive an alert by mail,” the statement adds.
VA officials described the breach as limited in scope but potentially damaging to veterans involved.
The Veterans Affairs department has seen prior breaches of its security systems. In 2006, over 26 million veterans and military personnel had their information exposed after a VA employee’s laptop was stolen.
Two thousand veterans had their personal information accidentally posted online in 2012, and in 2015, information of 21.5 million federal employees, including active duty troops and veterans, was part of a data theft at the Office of Personnel Management.