Court bars VA from promoting credit monitoring for vets

| Monday, June 26, 2006

A federal judge has temporarily stopped the government from promoting the free credit monitoring service it is planning to offer veterans whose personal data was stolen in May.

The Associated Press reported that attorneys who filed a class-action lawsuit on behalf of the veterans claimed that accepting the free credit monitoring offer could hurt their chances of winning more money in the suit.

U.S. District Judge William Bertelsman issued the order on Friday, June 23 and scheduled a follow-up hearing for Friday, June 30 to determine whether or not the Department of Veterans Affairs should revise its offer, The AP reported.

The lawsuit is seeking free credit monitoring and credit protection for an indefinite period as well as compensation of about $1,000 per person.

The department announced in mid-June that it was in the process of soliciting bids from credit monitoring companies to provide one year of free credit monitoring services to those whose data was stolen from a VA employee’s home.

Anyone with questions should contact the department’s toll-free number at (800) 333-4636. The number was set up by the VA in May in response to the stolen data and will operate from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday for as long as it is needed. 

In the meantime, the VA is also urging veterans to take advantage of the free credit report they are entitled to under the law. Anyone is entitled to one free credit report every 12 months from one of the three major credit reporting agencies – Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. The reports can be ordered online at http://www.annualcreditreport.com.

Additional credit reports can be obtained for a fee by contacting any of the three companies. Fees vary by company.

The VA’s web site, http://www.va.gov, also has information on what to do if you suspect there has been fraudulent activity in your name. You can place a fraud alert on your credit file by calling one of the three major credit reporting companies directly:

Once one company has been notified, the other two will be automatically notified of the alert.

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