MAY 23, 2006 - Posted at 4:36 p.m. CST
WASHINGTON - A day after the government announced the loss of sensitive personal information on more than 26 million U.S. veterans, questions remain about how truly deep the problem is.
That's because officials admit that data from some veterans' family members was lost, too. Veterans are asked to provide the Social Security numbers of their spouses and children.
The V.A. has set up a telephone hotline to answer questions about the theft of personal data from a V.A. employee's home.
Meanwhile, Arkansas' junior U.S. Senator Mark Pryor issued the following statement this afternoon on the matter: "I find it very troubling that the personal information of 26 million veterans has potentially been compromised and fallen into the hands of thieves. It is incumbent upon the Veterans Administration and law enforcement to allot the necessary resources to protect these veterans from identity theft and further frustration."
Security experts say the potential for identity theft depends on what the thief was after. Security consultant Chris McGoey says if it was a simple home robbery, it's unlikely that stolen information will be used. However, he says under a worst-case scenario, the thief might have known exactly what to look for.
Meanwhile, Pryor also expressed skepticism today that a federal law against oil company price gouging could not be enforced. The chief of the Federal Trade Commission said such a law would be difficult to enforce and could hurt consumers by causing fuel shortages. Pryor and Senator Gordon Smith or Oregon challenged FTC Chairwoman Deborah Platt Majoras' suggestion that consumers might be harmed by a federal price gouging law.