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VA accidentally deletes 464,000 home loan data files

CLEVELAND – A U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs office accidentally deleted 464,000 electronic data files last month that contained information about home loans, according to U.S. Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio.

The agency blamed human error at its regional office in Cleveland and said no personal information was jeopardized, according to a statement from the VA that was provided by Portman’s office.

The regional office oversees the home loan program in Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware.

The records included loans, grants and applications, Portman said. The VA said about half of the files were recoverable, and the online application program was restored within a few days after the records were erased May 24.

Portman sent a letter Monday to Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki, asking for information about when the department and applicants were told about the error and how they’ll be affected.

The senator also criticized the “limited communication and delayed incident reporting.”

A message seeking comment was left with the VA on Tuesday.

The deleted files from the online application program were from March 18 to May 24, The Plain Dealer ( reported.

Lenders, appraisers and staff appraisal reviewers have been asked to resubmit appraisals for pending loan closings, according to the VA statement.

“This incident only further exacerbates the frustration many veterans feel,” Portman said.

The department has faced increasing criticism this year over a backlog of disability claims. It announced in April that 250,000 veterans waiting more than a year for a decision on their disability claims would move to the front of the line.