The personal information of an estimated 46,000 veterans was compromised as a result of a data breach at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, officials revealed this week.
The VA’s Financial Services Center, or FSC, said Monday it will notify any veterans or veterans’ next of kin if their information is at risk after “unauthorized users” hacked into one of its online applications “to divert payments to community health care providers for the medical treatment of Veteran,” according to a press release.
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Hackers are believed to have “gained access to the application to change financial information and divert payments from VA by using social engineering techniques and exploiting authentication protocols,” the release states.
Access to the system has been discontinued until the VA’s Office of Information Technology can conduct a comprehensive review.
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Meanwhile, anyone whose information is believed to have been exposed will receive a letter by mail in the coming days.
“To protect these Veterans, the FSC is alerting the affected individuals, including the next-of-kin of those who are deceased, of the potential risk to their personal information. The department is also offering access to credit monitoring services, at no cost, to those whose social security numbers may have been compromised,” the department wrote.
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Veterans or their next of kin who have further questions after receiving such letters can contact the FSC Customer Help Desk by emailing VAFSCVeteransSupport@va.gov or writing to VA FSC Help Desk, Attn: Customer Engagement Center, .P.O. Box 149971, Austin, TX 78714-9971.