DoD Failed To Protect Private Veteran Data, Settles Lawsuit

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SCRA DoD Scammers
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DoD officials said the agency will revamp its online databases for the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) after allegedly exposing millions of soldiers’ and veterans’ personal information to identity thieves and scammers.

The decision comes after the Department of Defense (DoD) settled a lawsuit brought by Vietnam Veterans of America where veterans’ private data was “easily accessible on the internet to anybody at all, anonymously, for any purpose.”

What you are about to read should give you pause when considering the Department of Veterans Affairs’ new plan to share veterans’ health information on the third-party Health Information Exchange without consent.

SCRA Database Practices

Attorneys representing VVA argued the DoD should have been more aggressive in how it safeguarded the private information. The databases in question have been in operation since 1985. They allowed private businesses to review data to verify troops’ military status for eligibility to the SCRA.

“Veterans are not a product. We will not let those who have exploited our defenders go unpunished,” VVA national president John Rowan said in a statement. “Monetizing our service members by sharing their personal information for profit while compromising their identities is despicable and damaging to our national defense.”

VVA sued DoD in August 2017 because the agency was allegedly violating the Privacy Act as well as the Federal Information Security Modernization Act, which limits an agency’s use of an individual’s Social Security Number.

The website handled 2.3 billion requests per year according to DoD statistics and allowed a single user to make up to 12.5 million queries each day.

Cybercriminals

VVA was concerned the few restrictions on-site usage opened the door to cybercriminals and terrorists who could anonymously access the data.

“Particularly for special ops people, this is really dangerous. That’s why it’s a matter of national security that this thing is so loosey-goosey,” Rick Weidman, VVA’s director for policy and government affairs said in an interview with Federal News Network shortly after the lawsuit’s filing. “You don’t know who’s pulling your information because they don’t track it.”

Veteran Victim

VVA produced evidence by way of example where one veteran, co-plaintiff Thomas Barden, was victimized by scammers using information from the SCRA website to gain his confidence.

They claimed to be employed by Microsoft to purportedly diagnose problems Barden had with his computer. The information they gleaned from the SCRA website helped them convince Barden of their legitimacy.

According to Barden, the scammers eventually gained remote access to his computer and tried to gain access to his bank accounts. When Barden grew suspicious and refused, the scammer then locked down the computer and demanded a ransom payment.

Thoughts On Data Sharing

These agencies have repeatedly struggled to protect private data about veterans and servicemembers for years with the number of data breaches seemingly on the rise coinciding with the increase in usage of third-party vendors.

I encourage readers to go into the web to find stories about VA, DoD, or SSA failing to adequately safeguard sensitive records belonging to Americans. Report back here with what you find.

So, what do you think? Move forward with Health Information Exchanges without knowing more about safeguards? Or, should we put a halt to the process until the government explains how it will prevent the previous breaches under the new system.

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33 Comments

  1. Halt information sharing. Lock it down so only what needs to be shared is given specific consent immediately prior to share, one time only per consent.

  2. Tricare patients need to read this;
    *”https://www.military.com/daily-news/2019/10/03/tricare-drug-costs-increase-more-40-2020.html”*

    Could this be because of the massive bust which recently occurred?

  3. Then there’s this tidbit now surfacing;
    *”https://www.military.com/daily-news/2019/10/03/va-and-doj-join-forces-crack-down-health-care-fraud.html”*

    Does anyone doubt the current administration is NOT wanting to somewhat privatize the VA’s healthcare system!!!! Read this article very carefully! [I’m not talking about the “benefits” side of the VA!]!

    IMO, the vha’s nationwide can’t take care of the massive amount of veterans needing healthcare. Not only due to their incompetence, but also due to the growing number of veterans in all of the different districts! And, many vets don’t want to live anywhere near a VA hospital or clinic! Because those areas seem to contain large amounts of crime and other negative connotations (drugs and homelessness)! Due to these “negative issues” it would allow them to use the new “Mission Act” (“community care act”)!

  4. Veterans does anyone know why if a Veteran had intended to eligible to be Tricare but got Discharge for a Disabled Veteran is 100 percent service connected.

  5. Please Withhold this post too Ben, this will be the last post about VA’s Prescription Drugs, You need to write this story. Potentially, the VA is Killing the unborn of Veterans. at least I know your getting the info, and you can email me back if you want more info. or call me —–

    there is still at least one CMOP (approximately 6 CMOPS nationally that ship 80% of Veterans prescriptions through the US Mail) that is still using the old labels. RX#4091368

    as far back as 2009 at the Hines VA Hospital, the correct Labelling was being used with Highlighted info on labels for my Hydrocodone RX#16008224 CMOPS cannot ship narcotics they must come from the Veterans local VA Pharmacy.

    CMOPs are incorrectly called pharmacies. they don’t see Veterans and you can’t call them. they are actually repackagers/shippers of drugs which puts them in a different category with the FDA. this causes problems for veterans with regards to how the labels are applied to some prescription bottles. when they relabel some of these drugs like lisinopril, they are not allowed to coverup the manufacturers info on the already sealed (from the manufacturer) (EXELAN in the case of my lisinopril) Label as this info (per FDA) is required to be visible.
    this presents a problem as these labels the CMOPs apply to the bottle must be folded over and make the warnings and other highlighted prescribing info illegible. some times this folded label is ripped off when you pull it out of the white plastic bag the CMOPS Use to Ship.

    if you will notice on the address label for prescription drugs that come from the CMOPS, the return address is always the Veterans local VA pharmacy. they don’t want these drugs being sent back to the CMOP.

    there is so much more on this, I can probably take some pics of my prescription bottles to show the problems as well as the difference between the old and new.

    Ok Ben I’m done here with these posts. you got my contact info.

    please do this story.

    Mike Berns

  6. Ben. at least post the other comments I made today that you “withheld for moderation” to provide continuity to the readers. And please remove my phone number from what you did post despite my asking you to with hold posting.it.

  7. Ben I’ve posted and called you asking to remove my phone number I see it’s still here. you’ve withheld my previous post yesterday when I sent you the bay pines email I tried to post immediately after I received it.

    you’ve withheld my earlier posts today. these were instantly with held after I clicked post comment.

    I do have a reasonable expectation for privacy given this and the fact that I asked you not to post my comment which contained my phone number. ben I have the screen shots of everything I tried to post as well as your comment above my comments that were not posted. the story on the VA CMOPS and those failures needs to be written by you ben, not me. I indicated this in one of todays comments which you withheld.

    WTF Ben. Fix this.

    I appreciate you efforts on behalf of Veterans. something is f’d up here Ben.

    please fix asap. Mike Berns

    • I really don’t like getting involved in others comments. Only in this case, I feel it’s necessary.
      1. If you post your phone number in a comment, be aware it might stay on here forever!
      2. By putting a “link” to a source without putting quotation marks before and after it, your comment will NOT appear until it has gone through “moderation”!
      3. You really need to understand what goes on the internet – stays! So be careful to what you “post”!

      Just saying, Mark Berns!

  8. thanks for info crazy elf. hopefully ben can fix this. maybe explain this to me as well. i asked him in the voice mail to call me back. he has my number!
    mike

    • Good idea Mike to redact your personal info before sending it to anyone. Be safe. Even b4 it reaches Ben, you info is going thru several.servers.

      When sending links do this with quotation marks. I messed up several times too at first.

      “www.VASuxMoreThenYouThink.com”

    • @Mike Berns – – Thanks for your comments. I deleted your number. Please be more patient. The commenting system here is automated using algorithms. That is how this system works.

    • Daniel Childers thanks for the human spellchecker. Hopefully you’re checking all others.

      Maybe should post or email Ben when he mistakingly does the same.

      Wonder what your faults are?

  9. I guess the irony here is my information being put out here and the story about which I was commenting about veterans information being shared by the VA.

    I posted the last comment from my neighbors computer. I’ve just been informed that ben probably needs to put a warning/disclaimer about posted comments.

    are you monitoring your blog ben? call me please

  10. This behavior mirrors the shenanigans going on at VA, WLA. DVA reps from Washington D.C. have, in clandestine fashion, come into town to tell VSO’s that there was a 50 million dollar infrastructure oversight and sale of Veteran gift-land to a private, wealthy, school is necessary.
    What kind of project management was used? What crap! They say “Veterans gotta get behind this”
    We say America’s moral obligation to “Genuinely” care for Veterans mandates that evictions of all non-veteran special interests take place so the Veteran Master Plan, endorsed by AMVETS, happens

  11. Whistle blower article just published 2 hours ago on military times. Nothing changes. Every time I see the VA go after someone I take a step back because the VA is a criminal organization that retaliates and the government been caught telling people to plead guilty even when they are innocent. Remember General Flynn. They said he didn’t lie but charged him anyway said plead guilty or we will go after your family. Not justice! Bankrupted him. Sounds like Nazi Germany and the gestapo.

  12. The VA uses the DOJ to go after whistle blowers and complying veterans. Remember VA hires people straight out of prison and rewards directors that steal $130,000. Trust no one, VA is for VA not veterans. article doj gone wild as prosecutors steal and let there buddies off as they go after innocent people and overcharge them. The great un American justice system.

  13. VA top priority is sexual harassment as they hired a dozen sex offenders. We are for criminal justice reform because many innocent people are in the system. All these criminals at VA, its like sending a sex offender to teach first grade class.

  14. Benjamin. This was an idea I floated way back in 1983. When I first started programming for the Air Force. I can give you my commanding officer name that I stated this to. Never said another word till I started to get hired at the VA as an IT director. Now all of a sudden it surfaces. Never said how to secure it though. That’s one thing I never spoke about. Keep private till they prove your data can stay secure. Too many are in higher office hear of Ideas and want to take credit when it isn’t theirs in the first place. VA always turned me down but never said why. Guess cause I hadn’t finished my PhD.

  15. Off Topic – Kick up logical rants 2 free Cannabis plant. No Laws Regarding Cannabis #NLRC. Take it back; pre-1937. Speak up & shout it out.

  16. @ Ben and Crazy Elf.

    Ben, thanks for deleting my number, Elf, thanks for the encouragement.

    I’ll be more e careful. Ben please look at the info I sent you on the VA’s CMOPS. This story is worthy of disabledveterans.org, I have much more info to contribute, including photos if you are interested. There are definitely reforms needed by the VA related to the prescription drugs prescribed to Veterans especially following FDA guideline for dosing instructions, labelling, lack of required warnings. especially black box warnings which is the most serious warnings for a drug. Thats what I was trying to convey with my posts.

    thanks,

    Mike Berns

  17. We need all concerned veterans to get on board. In their organizations.to speak out on the most important issues.for our veterans and their family’s it’s out of control. Their is (No) Accountability with millions and even billions of our tax dollars .we need to hold all VA hospital’s accountable.for our tax dollars.they most comply with the (IGO) inspector general’s office on how and we’re our money is going. Just like they hold our non-profits of how we spent the tax dollars everyone should be held accountable.the (mission act) is the third partie, they should be held accountable for our tax dollars.we need them to be (audited every year) going back to 2014-2019 their our million if not billions missing this is ( no) joke.we need our representatives congressionman / women to look into this( ben krause) theirs a lot more and you now it we need your help….

    misappropriated

  18. All these people loosing there homes and there lives because of deliberate denials. Social security worse than va. 10 people go in with same problem 2 get approved. They are being told to delibertly deny as people die

  19. Alfred all Ive done is advocate for change. Nothing changes. Ive pulled out news articles for the past 6 years and nothing changes. The VA has a list of criminals and will do nothing to get rid of them when the proof is staring them in the face. Instead they go after whistle blowers, veterans and the disabled. I told them at the last town hall they were causing veteran suicide with there deliberate denials as veterans refuse to get help. We have a serious benefits problem that’s causing suicide because of deliberate denials as there is noted suicides over deliberate denials. No one is ever held accountable as they go after everyone else as our people die. Everyone on VA whistle blower hit list is gone and they are using the doj to go after complaining veterans. They kill our citizens without consequence and if you speak of violence your the problem as they kill everyone.

  20. I’m assuming this is why a private email account that I only use for family and important accounts just showed up on MYIDCare as being found on the black market. I HATE the VA.

  21. December 31 2019 is our last day at VA, we will be paying the higher cost of health care and if we have a problem in the private sector lawyers are dime a dozen!

  22. 10/07/2019

    Dear Benjamin Krause,

    According to our Government Officials, “no person or organization” is above the law.

    The VA refuses to answer simple questions—What happened to William Nutter, Jr.? [Sen. Warren]

    The VA has retaliated against most all personnel who were looking for corrective actions.

    Over at Boeing the procedures on Military Aircraft had Corrective Actions—on the Commercial side they eliminated them and the result was our Number One Aircraft Manufacturing is being pushed into Bankruptcy.

    Back to the VA during this time of upheaval at the VA [5.5 years of a national embarrassment/5 alarm fire] the VA has released information freely while our enemies are hacking away at our computers to gain access to our veterans data base.

    Here in Arizona, a high school football coach gave away game plays to the opposing teams—he got fired.

    Without Corrective Actions and those who push for excellence—we have the VA, an organization waiting to be closed down.

    With this in Mind —No VA—No Planes—No Hardware—etc…

    Are we not being delivered to the enemy?

    Sincerely,

    Don Karg

  23. If you want same health care, the local jails are out performing VA. I might go there and drop off some job applications.

  24. Another VA employee was fired for stealing credit card information at another hospital but good ole VA hired him. No worry your information safe. The criminals oversea your privacy.

Comments are closed.