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The medical and social security records of more than 500,000 retired and serving US military personnel were stolen in a break-in last month.

Sensitive information, including names, addresses, social security numbers, and some claims information with diagnoses of US servicemen, was obtained when thieves stole computers from the corporate offices of TriWest Healthcare Alliance in Phoenix, Arizona on December 14. CRN reports that TriWest is a contractor involved in a Defense Department project to store the medical records of military personnel and their families on computer.

Defense Criminal Investigative Service, FBI and other law enforcement agencies are investigating the break-in. The DoD has placed a notice on its Web site apologising for any inconvenience the theft might cause. It has set up a help-line on 1-800-424-9098 to deal with individual concerns.

Last week TriWest sent out letters to all the beneficiaries of its policies whose information was potentially compromised.

It also posted a reward of $100,000 for anyone supplying information leading to the arrests and conviction of those responsible for the crime. It's not known if anyone's personal information has been misused following the crime.

TriWest CEO Dave McIntyre's suggestion that the crime is an identity theft against US patriots has drawn a scornful response from Rob Rosenberger, Vmyths editor and Air Force reservist.

Rosenberger resents TriWest's attempts to wrap itself in the flag following what he believes to be a common burglary. You can read his rant here. ®

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