DFI Alerts California’s Financial institutions on the Need to Remain Vigilant in Verifying Personal Identifying Information for New and Existing Customers – Consumers can take steps to help protect their identity

May 26, 2006

San Francisco – On Monday, May 22, 2006, the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) published a notice that electronic data on approximately 26.5 million veterans and some spouses may have been compromised. The stolen data could include the names, Social Security Numbers and birth dates of persons who have served and were discharged since 1975. Please refer to the VA Web site at www.va.gov for additional information on this security incident.

The Department of Financial Institutions reminds state financial institutions, including banks and credit unions to remain vigilant against the misuse of personal identifying information for both new and existing customers. Additionally, financial institutions have an obligation to verify the identity of persons seeking to open new accounts and to safeguard customer information against unauthorized access or use.

The California Office of Privacy Protection recommends that veterans whose personal information may have been involved in this incident take steps to protect themselves against possible identity theft. For information specific to the incident, please follow the link to the Office of Privacy Protection, http://www.privacyprotection.ca.gov/nr/vasecurity_incident.htm.

Additionally, consumer information and resources on preventing identity theft and steps to take if an individual becomes a victim can be found at the DFI’s Web site under Financial ABCs, listed under “I” for Identity Theft at: http://www.dfi.ca.gov/financialliteracy/.

For your reference, DFI Alerts may be accessed from the DFI Web site at http://www.dfi.ca.gov/notices/consumernotices.asp. To learn how to automatically receive DFI Alerts and other DFI publications through e-mail, please visit http://www.dfi.ca.gov/bulletin/subscription/public.asp.

DFI supervises over 700 financial institutions with assets totaling over $290 billion. The Department is responsible for administering state laws regulating state-licensed financial institutions: banks, credit unions, industrial banks, savings associations, trust companies, offices of foreign banks, issuers of travelers’ checks and payment instruments (money orders), and transmitters of money abroad. DFI reports to Business, Transportation & Housing Agency Secretary Sunne Wright McPeak and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.