VA-issued ID card poses risk to security
Any veteran or active military should not have to worry that their VA issued ID card would be a security threat but recently it has been proved to be just that. Anyone with a smart phone and a free downloaded bar code scanner can read the social security number on the back of the card. ID cards issued since 2004 through now are at risk.
The VA has issued a warning but I feel that the alert has not been aggressive enough to all veterans. The VA is now working on a new type of card, one that does not show the Social Security number but it will not be available until the end of 2014.
Rather than replace the current cards now, the VA has chosen at this time not to be in any hurry to protect the security of those who have served. Just today I downloaded an app from the Google Play store, installed it and scanned my VA card. There was my Social Security number, accessible to anyone who followed my steps to do so.
So what are the chances of this happening to you? Well the same percentage that you may lose your wallet or show you ID and then forget to pick up the card. Many different scenarios could produce disastrous results and ruin your credit.
Thieves can use your Social Security number to ruin your life with identity theft that may take you years to recover a high credit score, so you need to protect your Social Security number like you do your credit or debit card. Never use your debit card to make online purchases or a thief can wipe out your checking account and only use a no liability credit card. Many banks are now offering them.
So what can you do if you think your Social Security number or credit card has been compromised? You can place a “fraud alert” by contacting one of the three credit report companies. Each company is then obligated to notify the other two. The Initial Fraud Alert stays on your credit card for 90 days free of charge and flags a creditor to contact you directly prior to issuing you any credit.
Unless you have a VA appointment, one easy solution is to simply leave the card at home. If you carry a VA ID card, please watch the news video from a Florida TV station and share with other veterans. (You can find the video at www.youtube.com/watch?v=4ycbVaOk6To&feature=youtu.be). You also can Google “VA ID Card Reader” and read the info there. One thing is for certain, as technology advances, our security will always be at risk. Be careful!
Rodney Cress lives in Salisbury and is a longtime advocate on veterans issues.
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