Personal information on about 2.2 million active-duty, National Guard and Reserve troops was stolen last month from a government employee's house, officials said on Tuesday in the latest revelation of a widening scandal.
This means nearly all current US military personnel may be at risk of identify theft, the Pentagon said.
The Department of Veterans Affairs said the information, including names, Social Security numbers and dates of birth, may have been stored in the same stolen electronic equipment that contained similar personal data on 26.5 million US military veterans.
Lawmakers and veterans' advocates have expressed alarm that the government failed to safeguard the data, which in the wrong hands could be used in credit card fraud and other crimes.
Law enforcement agencies investigating the incident have no indication the stolen information has been used to commit identity theft, officials said.
Veterans Affairs Secretary Jim Nicholson disclosed last month that unidentified burglars on May 3 broke into the Maryland residence of a Veterans Affairs data analyst who had violated official procedures by taking the data home. The thieves stole equipment containing the veterans' data.
The government over the weekend said personal information on about 50,000 active-duty, National Guard and Reserve personnel may also have been involved in the theft.
But now Veterans Affairs said that as it and the Pentagon compared electronic files, officials discovered that personal information on as many as 1.1 million military members on active duty, 430,000 National Guard troops and 645,000 members of the Reserves may have been taken in the theft.
Bryan Whitman, a Pentagon spokesman, said, "We want to encourage service members to be vigilant and carefully monitor their personal information and any statements related to recent financial transactions."
Whitman said the Pentagon was helping Veterans Affairs inform the affected military personnel about steps they can take to protect against identity theft.
Source: China Daily