Veteran gets disability check restored after data breach re-routed funds

Investigations

MORRISTOWN, Tenn. (WATE) — A disabled veteran has been fighting with Veterans Affairs for more than a month after her disability check was re-routed to a new account.

She did some research and found the money went to a prepaid debit card she knew nothing about.

Shannon Toombs’ dispute over the VA disability check she and her family rely on has been resolved, but just imagine not being able to buy groceries, put gas in your car, or pay your bills.

For anybody, that would be stressful.

Toombs, a single mom, and a 100% disabled veteran faced a difficult mission: restoration of her monthly paycheck from the VA.

Nearly 30 years ago, Toombs learned how to handle stress in the Marine Corps, but now as a mother of a disabled teenager circumstances have gotten desperate. Toombs’ own service-connected disability prevents her from working, which makes her government check a lifeline.

“If this happens again, it could put me homeless.”

Shannon Toombs

E-benefits is the VA system’s gateway to benefit information, and that’s where Toombs found a new routing number and a new account number that she didn’t know existed.

That’s where her monthly check of nearly $3,700 landed.

Toombs said American Express had nothing to do with switching her direct deposit. She contacted the company’s fraud department and a lock was put on some Blue Bird prepaid cards that American Express controls.

A second letter from the VA last month said the payment into her ORNL Credit Union account was compromised and could be delayed. To make it up, Toombs says the VA sent her a courtesy payment.

Two weeks ago, WATE contacted the VA and explained Toombs’ dilemma, and we were told her concerns have been addressed. There was no additional information.

“I got excellent news, the situation has been taken care of. There was a breach, and I wasn’t the only veteran impacted. I was one of the ones who was able to catch it in time.”

Shannon Toombs

It turns out, veterans around the country had similar experiences as Toombs encountered. Cases have been investigated in several states where e-benefits accounts were fraudulently accessed and monthly direct deposits re-routed to banks the veterans had no financial relationship with.

Just two days ago, the U.S. Government Accountability Office, said in a published report that the VA does not have an IT system that fully supports VA benefits.

The push to protect veterans’ privacy continues.

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