Local vets shrug off theft of personal data

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LEWISTON – As far as Tom Naragon is concerned, matters of personal information are always a source of concern. But the 59-year-old, Vietnam-era veteran did not break out in a cold sweat Monday at the news that personal data had been stolen from a Veterans Affairs employee.

“The older I get, the more concerned I become with the idea of identity theft,” Naragon said Monday night. “From that point of view, yes, I’m marginally concerned. But I try to stay abreast of these kinds of issues. I’ve taken steps to protect myself.”

Federal officials said there is no indication that any veteran’s personal data has been used for any illegal purposes. Still, Naragon knows how easy it can be for even a marginally capable person to use information like a Social Security number to access another person’s credit cards and other financial data. He said he tries to protect himself by putting limits on his credit card, insuring them and remaining watchful for strange activity in his lists of transactions.

Other local veterans Monday night said they were only distantly aware of the burglary that some politicians were calling a serious breach of security for American veterans and their families.

“I just heard about it on TV,” said Bertrand Dutil, a veteran of the Korean War. “I’m not real worried about it. But it would be a terrible thing if it affects anybody at all.”

Richard Giem, a 73-year-old Korean War veteran, said he did not know anything about a breach at Veterans Affairs. Told of the burglary and the leak of personal information, he said he still did not feel particularly threatened.

“I haven’t heard anything about it and nobody I have talked to has mentioned it,” Giem said. “I don’t think I’ll lose any sleep over it.”

Naragon, who knows what devastation identity theft can inflict on a person’s life, said he will keep an eye on the story as it develops. Beyond that, he does not expect the situation to cause him an ulcer.

“Am I really upset over it? No,” he said. “Because I’ve taken those security steps to protect myself.”

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