Warning: VA ID Cards Are Easily Scanned

 VA ID Cards Are Easily Scanned

Week of November 25, 2013

Anyone with a smartphone and a bar code app can scan any Department of Veterans Affairs identification card issued since 2004 and the cardholder’s Social Security number immediately pops up on the screen. The Department of Veterans Affairs published warnings about the veterans information cards (VICs) on their website in 2011 and again in July, 2013. The alert states, “Some barcode readers, including those available as applications on cell phones, can scan the bar code on the front of the card, and reveal the veteran’s social security number.” VA has begun to work on a new type of card, which will not contain a Social Security number. Meanwhile, veterans should treat their current ID cards as just a careful as they do their Social Security card to prevent identity theft.

THANKS TO: http://www.military.com/veterans-report/warning-va-id-cards-are-easily-scanned

SUPPORTING STORY: Social Security Numbers Leaked Through VA Cards

In Pennsylvania and throughout America, social security identities are among the most — if not the most — closely-guarded forms of identity. A lost credit card can simply be cancelled. A stolen passport can be reported. Some identifiers, like names and addresses, are even spread freely all over the internet. But a compromised social security number is serious. It can open up the victim to a nightmare of fraud or identity theft — and a scannable ID card could be the gateway.

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Smartphones Easily Unlock Social Security Information

“Smartphones” earned their title for a reason. Gadgets like iPhones, Galaxies, and Androids live up to their futuristic-sounding names by offering users a wide variety of powerful capabilities. Frivolous or functional, there’s an app for almost everything under the sun — including scanning barcodes. Put to normal use, it can be a great tool. It’s effective, simple, and fast; everything an app should be. Unfortunately, that same efficiency and ease of use is proving to be a disastrous double-edged sword in the case of some scannable VA cards — cards containing highly sensitive personal information, like social security numbers.

“I didn’t think that was possible,” says Barry Landau, appalled. “The card is absolutely no good.” Landau is a Tampa-based businessman — and a veteran. And Landau isn’t the only one to have his social security number unexpectedly lifted by a simple barcode-scanning phone app. Because, unfortunately for Landau and countless others, this card-reading accident was no fluke. It’s come to light that an entire generation of VA identification cards are vulnerable to smartphones with barcode scanners.

Or rather, it’s coming to light again.

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Safer Cards to Come in 2014

The first official warning about the invisibly defective cards came in 2011 — a full seven years after the cards’ initial release in 2004. In July of 2013, the warning was renewed. But while the notices about card security have raised a quiet alarm, many feel far too little is being done to rectify the issue. New, secured cards are scheduled for release in 2014 — but that’s still months away, at the earliest. Gus Bilirakis, Florida Congressman — and vice chairman of the VA Committee — is angry about the delays. According to Bilirakis, it is “unacceptable that nothing more immediate has been done to rectify this issue. …The VA should take all precautions to make sure this information is protected.”

Dave Braun is also dissatisfied with the sluggish and limited dissemination of warnings. “Where is the distribution to notify everyone?” the co-chairman of the Veterans Memorial Park Museum Committee is asking. “They are not telling anyone about it.”

For the time being, individuals carrying the outdated VA identification cards will just have to wait — and be extremely careful about who they let scan their cards.
THANKS TO: http://www.ykassd.com/social-security-numbers-leaked-through-va-cards

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