North Carolina Department of Justice
North Carolina Department of Justice
North Carolina Department of Justice
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Cooper acts to protect veterans from ID theft

Release date: 5/24/2006

Raleigh: Military veterans in North Carolina whose personal information was recently stolen from the U.S. government should be able to freeze their credit for free so they can protect themselves from identity theft, Attorney General Cooper said today.

According to news reports and statements from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), 26.5 million veterans could be threatened by identity theft because data including their names, birth dates and Social Security numbers was stolen May 3 from an employee who had taken the information home.

Cooper wrote to legislative leaders late Tuesday to encourage them to change state law so that veterans can place a security freeze on their credit reports without having to pay the usual fee of $10 per credit agency.

“These veterans have given so much to our country, and now precisely because they have sacrificed for us, they are now at greater risk of identity theft,” Cooper wrote.

Last year, Cooper helped push through the Identity Theft Protection Act to better protect North Carolinians from identity theft. That law gives all consumers the right to place a security freeze on their credit reports. Placing a security freeze prohibits credit reporting agencies from releasing any information about you to new creditors without your approval, making it difficult for an identity thief to use your information to open an account or obtain credit.

“The security freeze serves as a padlock on a consumer’s credit report keeping thieves from being able to take out credit in the consumer’s name,” Cooper said in the letter.

A security freeze is currently free for identity theft victims. Other consumers can place a freeze on their credit for a fee of $10 paid to each of the three credit reporting agencies. Cooper wants to see that fee waived for veterans, who are now at greater risk of ID theft.

Cooper’s office also issued tips on Tuesday to help veterans take steps to protect themselves from identity theft. The tip sheet, “Identity Theft: Tips for Veterans Who May Be at Risk,” tells veterans how to place a fraud alert on their credit, how to get copies of credit reports, and how to request a security freeze. The tip sheet is available at www.ncdoj.com under “What’s New.” Additional information about identity theft is available at www.ncdoj.com/idtheft.

The VA has also established a toll-free number, 1-800-FED INFO, and a website, www.firstgov.gov, for veterans who are seeking information about the data theft.

[Note: A copy of the letter is attached.]

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NC Department of Justice y 9001 Mail Service Center Raleigh, NC 27699-9001 y (919) 716-6400