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Congresswoman Maxine Waters

Representing the 43rd District of California

Veterans Identity and Credit Security Act of 2006

August 6, 2009
Floor Statement
Rep. Maxine Waters [D-CA]: Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of H.R. 5835, the Veterans Identity and Credit Security Act.

Earlier this year, millions of veterans saw their economic security threatened when several VA computers were stolen from a Veterans Administration (VA) employee's home. While it appears that no veteran was a victim of ID theft, the VA was ill-prepared to deal with the lost of this highly personal and confidential information.

While I am pleased to support this bill, which will help safeguard veterans' personal information in the future, I urge this Congress to immediately pass legislation that will protect all Americans from ID theft, not just our veterans. The threat of ID theft is too important to ignore any longer.

Data security is an issue that we have labored over for months, and while this will protect America's veterans from breaches of data security, the American public wants Congress to act to protect its private information as well.

As many of my colleagues have outlined during the debate today, this bill takes several steps to empower the VA to combat ID theft. It creates a new Office of the Under Secretary for Information Services within the Department. The bill also requires the VA to notify affected individuals when sensitive, personal information held by VA is lost, stolen, or otherwise compromised. In addition, the bill requires the VA to provide services to alleviate any loss those individuals might suffer, if the Secretary of VA determines there is a risk that the compromised information could be used in a criminal manner. Another important provision in the bill requires contractors to pay damages to VA if the compromised information was under the contractors' control. The combination of these provisions represents a well thought through piece of legislation.

Mr. Speaker, having ones identity stolen can unleash a lifetime of problems for its victims. It can impair buying a home, applying for jobs and loans as well as a host of other problems.

I am pleased to support this bill to help protect our veterans from these personal and economic pitfalls. I urge my colleagues to support this bill.

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