VA: Files containing personal information thrown in trash

RAPID CITY, S.D. (AP) - Officials with the Department of Veterans Affairs in the Black Hills said this week they’re taking steps to notify veterans affected by an information breach caused by an employee who accidently threw away personnel files on its Hot Springs campus.

VA officials said someone tossed a box containing files with personal information into a trash bin on May 15 during an office move. A different employee noticed the box in the trash two days later and VA police recovered them, the Rapid City Journal reported (http://bit.ly/1DZWt6s ).

Spokeswoman Teresa Forbes told the newspaper that the breach affects about 1,100 veterans.

Because the veterans’ files remained in the trash on the Hot Springs campus until they were retrieved, Forbes said officials are “very confident that we don’t anticipate that their information has been targeted or will be misused.”

The VA on Wednesday sent letters to the 1,100 veterans or their families advising them of options to check on the security of their personal information. Forbes said that action was required by policies and protocols.

The files included veterans’ names, Social Security numbers, phone numbers and addresses.

Even though the VA waited more than two months to notify veterans, Forbes said they followed procedure.

“VA Black Hills worked within the time frames set by our policies to ensure the investigation was thorough, all affected veterans were identified, and resources put in place to assist veterans,” she said.

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