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
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.