Officials with the military's health care program have verified that a mass mailing informing beneficiaries they are eligible for free credit reports in the wake of a September data breach is not a scam. The letter from contractor Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC), has aroused suspicions on an Air Force Facebook page and in retiree and military spouse Internet forums. It offers free credit monitoring and restoration services for one year to TRICARE beneficiaries whose personal information was exposed when backup computer tapes with health records of 4.9 million people were stolen from an SAIC employee's car.
Postings on the official Facebook page of Ramstein Air Force Base in Germany not only called the letter a scam, but said one squadron at the base "sent out an email saying it was a scam and to turn all letters into them as they had opened an investigation with the Office of Special Investigation."
The Scam Checker website contains numerous posts depicting the message as a fake, and others deeming it authentic.
One recipient even called the FBI to determine if the letter was legitimate, which the bureau confirmed.
CincHouse, a website for military women and wives, confused the issue even more with posts that looked at different parts of the SAIC letter and came to the conclusion that there were two letters in circulation: a real one and a scam.
An online forum at Military.com also mixed up parts of the SAIC letter and determined there were two versions floating around.
The SAIC letter signed by Walter P. Havenstein, the company's chief executive officer, is "NOT a hoax," TRICARE spokesman Austin Camacho said. "Please remind your readers to double-check the letter they receive from SAIC to ensure contact information matches the toll-free phone numbers as these are the ONLY valid phone numbers to verify authenticity and obtain assistance," Camacho said. Concerned beneficiaries in the United States should contact the SAIC Incident Response Call Center toll-free at 1-855-366-0140. Those abroad can call collect: 1-952-556-8312. "We understand that some recipients of the letter are concerned that it may be a scam," SAIC spokesman Vernon Guidry said. "They may reassure themselves that the letter is genuine by accessing the TRICARE Management Activity website" (at www.tricare.mil/breach/).
Please see your local county veterans service officer if you have any questions. You can contact your local VSO at (218) 631-7617 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. As always, have a great week.