Here we go again.
The Department of Veterans Affairs has disclosed that information on more than half a million individuals and about 1.3 million non-VA physicians – both living and deceased – is missing or may have been stolen. The information had been stored on a portable hard drive that was being used by a VA employee at the department’s facility in Birmingham, Ala.
The VA said it would notify individuals whose sensitive information may have been on the hard drive and will make arrangements to provide one year of free credit monitoring to those whose information proves “compromised.”
In another information snafu, a vendor working for Piper Jaffray & Co. accidentally sent current and former employees their W-2 forms with Social Security numbers printed on the outside of the envelopes. The investment and securities firm also said it will offer a year of free credit monitoring to those affected.
In information breach cases, offering potential victims free credit monitoring is the least the company or government agency can do.
And I really do mean it’s the least they can do, because having a credit monitoring service wouldn’t make me feel too secure.
For about a year, my husband and I paid $99 for credit monitoring. During that time, we were sent monthly reports about any activity posted in our credit files with Experian, Equifax and TransUnion.
Like the proliferation of fast-food restaurants, there are numerous credit monitoring services. All three credit bureaus offer these services, and they’re pretty much the same. Typically, consumers are notified if anything unusual or suspicious appears on any of their credit reports, such as an address change, which can be an indication that someone is trying to divert bills from a fraudulently opened credit or loan account.