VA warns millions of vets at risk for ID theft

VA warns millions of vets at risk for ID theft »Play Video
BOISE, Idaho (KBOI) -- Anyone with a smart phone and a bar code app can scan any veterans identification card issued since 2004 and easily obtain the card holder's social security number.

Then, if you're an identity thief, you're off to the races.

"So I want to let the veterans know if they have an old ID card they need to keep that secured because you do have personal identifiable information on it that can be accessed through one of these smart phones," said Josh Callihan, public affairs officer with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs in Boise.

That's the reason the VA is spending some $4 million to issue new cards that do not contain vital personal information, only a serial number unique to the cardholder.

The cards function like health insurance cards and it's estimated there are 4 million of them nationwide.

But while the VA has been aware of the problem for two years, many veterans are just now finding out about it.

We wondered: Has the VA been dragging its heels?

"I don't know that the VA's necessarily been slow about getting the word out," said Callihan. "Things do not happen expeditiously in the VA or the federal government."

It's a problem that has the potential to impact an enormous amount of people nationwide. In southwest Idaho alone, the VA estimates 27,000 veterans have the scannable cards.

The VA says if you have an old card, safeguard it immediately. Then when you get the new one, destroy the old one.