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TriWest CEO Assists with Response to VA Information Theft


PHOENIX — TriWest Healthcare Alliance CEO David J. McIntyre has been called on by Congress to provide advice to assist in the federal government's response to the information theft potentially impacting 17.5 million veterans.

McIntyre today testified before the House Appropriations subcommittee on Military Quality of Life and Veterans Affairs about the TriWest experience in responding to a major information theft, as the panel seeks to ensure that the nation's veterans are protected against the threat of identity theft, following the Veterans Administration incident last month.

In December 2002, TriWest became the victim of a theft that placed at risk the personal information of more than a half-million current and former TriWest customers (TRICARE beneficiaries). When this crime took place, it was the largest of its kind in American history.

The company has been nationally recognized for its response to the incident, considered by many to be a textbook example of how to protect consumers against identity theft when criminal act puts personal information at risk.

"As one who leads an organization that suffered from the largest information theft of its time," said McIntyre, "it is a pleasure to be here to share what we learned from that experience in hopes that our response and lessons learned can be of assistance to the VA and others as we work together to attack this growing threat. Unfortunately, today, information theft incidents even larger than our own are occurring with great frequency—placing people at risk of potential identity theft if the organizations falling victim to such thefts do not respond aggressively."

In addition to describing the steps taken by TriWest to protect its customers from identity theft, McIntyre was also asked to provide recommendations about additional steps the Veterans Administration could take to protect the nation's veterans against financial and credit harm.

"It is my belief that the solution to preparedness lies in the development of a 'nerve center' to assist agencies and departments within the federal government when such events occur," McIntyre added. "By establishing such centers, the government can ensure that experts are immediately available to assist affected agencies/departments and help control the response and reaction following such an incident.  And, unfortunately, as we have all come to realize, the question is not whether another incident of information theft will occur, but when."

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