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Walla Walla VA issues security breach alert

WALLA WALLA – The Jonathan M. Wainwright Memorial VA Medical Center in Walla Walla is offering free credit monitoring for up to 1,519 veterans whose personal information, including social security numbers, was inadvertently emailed to an external education partner on Nov. 1. 

“VA places the highest priority on safeguarding the personal information of our veterans,” said Medical Center Director Brian Westfield. “When an incident such as this is discovered, we will immediately take prompt remedial action such as notification to the veteran – even if the risk to veterans is very slight.” 

The email and its attachment were recovered within 10 minutes of being sent. Walla Walla VA Privacy Officer Laurie Beauchamp investigated the incident, and reported the external education partner is held in high regard.  “I am confident appropriate steps have been taken to mitigate any harm to our veterans.” stated Beauchamp.

She added that the employee involved received additional training on keeping electronic files protected to eliminate this type of situation from occurring in the future.

Every veteran whose name was in the email attachment will receive a letter of notification and, where appropriate, an offer of credit monitoring for one year at no charge. 

Veterans, who believe they may have been affected by this incident, but have not been notified by VA, may verify whether their information was involved by writing to:  

Jonathan M. Wainwright Memorial VA Medical Center; ATTN:  Privacy Officer; 77 Wainwright Dr.; Walla Walla, WA, 99362.

Affected veterans can request a free credit report for one year from one or more of the three national credit bureaus by calling 1-877-322-8228 or by visiting www.annualcreditreport.com.  Information about this and other protections, including placing a “fraud alert” on credit accounts, is available by calling the Federal Trade Commission at its toll free number, 1-877-438-4338, or by visiting its website, http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/features/feature-0014-identity-theft.

If veterans have questions about identity theft, they can reach VA’s office of identity safety at VAidtheft@va.gov or call VA’s toll-free identity safety number at 1-855-578-5492.

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