WASHINGTON (AP) -- Up to 38,000 veterans may be at risk of identity theft because a Veterans Affairs subcontractor lost a computer. VA Secretary Jim Nicholson said Unisys Corp., a subcontractor hired to assist in insurance collections for VA medical centers in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, reported the desktop computer containing sensitive personal data missing Thursday. It was being used in Unisys offices in Reston, Va. The computer is believed to contain names, addresses, Social Security numbers, dates of birth, insurance carriers and claims data including medical information for veterans who received care at the hospitals in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh during the past four years. According to initial estimates, the data covered about 5,000 patients treated at Philadelphia, 11,000 treated at Pittsburgh and 2,000 deceased patients. The VA is investigating whether the information also may have covered 20,000 who received care through the Pittsburgh medical center. A Unisys spokeswoman said company officials were investigating but declined to say whether a particular employee had been using the computer. The computer was in a building and floor where security procedures were in place for access, and there were no signs of a break-in, she said. The computer was password protected, but the data was not encrypted. The disclosure comes after a string of recent data breaches at the VA, including the May 3 theft of 26.5 million veterans' personal data from a VA employee's home in suburban Maryland. The laptop and external drive containing that information has since been recovered, and two teens were arrested Saturday as part of what appeared to be a routine burglary. In recent weeks, the VA also has acknowledged losing sensitive data for more than 16,000 veterans in at least two other cases in Minneapolis and Indianapolis.

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