Frequently Asked Questions
- What is identity theft?
- What is personally identifiable information (PII)?
- What is protected health information (PHI)?
- Why is it important to protect Veterans from identity theft?
- How do I report an identity theft incident with VA?
- How do I file an identity theft complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC)?
- How do I change or update my contact information with VA?
1. What is identity theft?
Identity theft occurs when someone uses another person’s Sensitive Personal Information (SPI) to commit, aid or abet fraud (Source: Fair and Accurate Credit Transaction Act, 2003).
2. What is personally identifiable information (PII)?
Any information which can be used to distinguish or trace an individual’s identity, such as their name, social security number, biometric records, etc. alone, or when combined with other personal or identifying information which is linked or linkable to a specific individual, such as date and place of birth, mother’s maiden name, etc. Information does not have to be retrieved by any specific individual or unique identifier (i.e., covered by the Privacy Act) to be PII (Source: OMB Memorandum M-07-16).
3. What is protected health information (PHI)?
Individually identifiable health information held by a covered entity or by a business associate acting on its behalf. PHI excludes education records covered by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, as amended, 20 U.S.C. 1232g, records described at 20 U.S.C. 1232g(a)(4)(B)(iv) and employment records held by a covered entity in its role as employer. Within VA, VHA is the only covered entity. Certain other A components, such as OI&T, are business associates of VHA (Source: 45 C.F.R. 160.103; VA Directive 6066).
4. Why is it important to protect Veterans from identity theft?
Identity theft can result in serious consequences for Veterans and their beneficiaries. When a person’s identity is compromised, it can take considerable time and money to resolve the criminal charges that occur and close bad accounts. Victims can even be denied loans or jobs because of the crime’s impact on their credit.
5. How do I report an identity theft incident with VA?
Call the toll-free Identity Theft Helpline at 1-855-578-5492. The helpline is available Monday-Friday from 8:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m. (Eastern time).
6. How do I file an identity theft complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC)?
Report a fraud or scam by filling out this online complaint form.
7. How do I change or update my contact information with VA?
Call 1-800-827-1000 and select Option 1, then Option 3.