A Veterans Administration/Department of Defense software glitch has resulted in veterans’ personal data — including Social Security numbers, bank routing numbers, and home loan eligibility — being visible to any user logged onto the agency’s benefit portal, The Washington Post reports.
The eBenefits portal has nearly 3 million registered users, according to FedScoop, which first reported the software defect last week. An internal memo obtained by FedScoop indicates that the incident came to light on Jan. 15 when 20 people called the VA help desk to report seeing other users’ information when they logged onto the site.
Veterans and their dependents use the portal for a variety of purposes, such as updating direct deposit information, viewing medical and military records, and generating home loan certificates of eligibility.
One veteran, trying to edit his own claim, was routed to another veteran’s screen containing the man’s disabilities, disability income, and Social Security number.
Another man told Fox News that when he went to check the status of a claim, his computer pulled up a page with “erroneous web code” containing information for a sexual trauma claim, which was not his.
“I logged off, logged back in and it was the same thing,” the veteran said. “Every time I’d log back in, I would get another person’s information.”
Users had the ability to see and alter private records of multiple veterans for every person who was logged in, according to FedScoop.
“When I hit next, it pulled up some random guy with all his info, but with my address that I just updated,” disabled veteran Eric Grzelak told the website. “So you could change people’s info if you wanted. So I’m not sure if this poor guy’s stuff is going to start coming to my house.”
The VA has yet to reveal how the mishap occurred or how many of the site’s users were affected. In a statement released Friday, the agency acknowledged the “software defect” and offered to provide free credit monitoring for affected individuals.
A “full review” is underway, according to the statement. It overlaps with a separate investigation launched in June by the House Veterans Affairs Committee into the agency’s security practices. That investigation came about following revelations that the VA computer network had been compromised since at least 2010 with unencrypted personal information of veterans and dependents.
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By Melissa Clyne