More than 26 million veterans are back on the front lines today. Only this time, it's a different war. The opponent is unseen and the assets under assault are digital, but failure could very well bring real and tragic consequences.
The battle began Tuesday with news that data on more than 26.5 million veterans had been stolen from the home of a worker with the Department of Veterans Affairs. The missing data includes Social Security numbers and dates of birth, among other sensitive information that could be used to steal the identities of the victims.
It's a serious threat, too. The Justice Department wasn't notified until two weeks after the theft, giving the crooks a huge lead in stealing what could amount to hundreds of millions of dollars.
And if you think that's bad, consider the fresh reports that say the VA had gaping holes in its security. The agency's inspector general, Jon Woodlitch, wrote in a report to Congress that his office had been warning of lax security throughout the department since 2001. Sheesh.
What this all means, of course, is that you're on your own when it comes to managing your credit. And you'd better; identity theft is a serious crime that affected some 9.3 million Americans last year, according to Javelin Strategy and Research. Fortunately, we can help. Check below for a variety of free Foolish resources you can use to stick it to the crooks:
- Start here at our Credit Center.
- Learn about the types of ID theft.
- Celebrate Shred Day!
- Don't go phish.
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Fool contributor Tim Beyers thinks identity crooks ought to be locked up with the murderers. Tim didn't own shares in any of the companies mentioned in this story at the time of publication. You can find out which stocks he owns by checking Tim's Fool profile . The Motley Fool has an ironclad disclosure policy .