The Army cannot account for files containing personal data from a regional reserve command based at Fort Totten and is warning some 12,000 area military and civilian personnel they may be vulnerable to identity theft.
The records cover reservists from Long Island, New York City and upstate who were assigned to the 77th Regional Readiness Command at the Queens base and its subordinate units at any time between Oct. 1, 2001, and Sept. 30, 2008. The unit has since been disbanded and absorbed by the 99th Regional Support Command.
The files were those held by the 77th's judge advocate office - the unit's legal branch - and were discovered missing when the new command asked for an accounting of the old unit's records.
William Roberts, spokesman for the 99th Regional Support Command, said the Army began sending letters and e-mails on Wednesday to the last known addresses of personnel who had been with the disbanded unit.
"Our greatest challenge will be to find people who have moved on" and are no longer associated with the command, Roberts said.
The e-mail sent to area reservists warned of "a possible loss of confidential or personally identifiable information."
"Since the whereabouts of these files are presently unknown, the possibility exists that soldiers' and civilian employees' information may have been compromised," it said.
The e-mail warned recipients to "check credit bureau reports and be aware of the possibilities of identity theft." Current or former Army personnel wanting more information were directed to call 609-562-7430 or e-mail RSC099_PAOPII@usar.army.mil.
Roberts said there have been no known instances of identity theft based on the lost records thus far.
"They could have been burned, they could have been shredded, but we don't know - we just know they are missing," Roberts said. "This is a precautionary measure."
One of several area reserve units that fell under the 77th RRC is the 800th Military Police Brigade, based in Uniondale. A personnel officer there said it has about 300 reservists from Long Island and New York City, including Iraq and Afghanistan veterans.
Staff Sgt. Byung Sa, a reservist who is president of the Veterans Student Organization at Stony Brook University, was notified Wednesday.
"This is disappointing but not too surprising," he said. "I just don't know what to expect.
"To be honest, I wouldn't be surprised if they aren't stored in a basement somewhere and they just haven't found them," Sa said. "Hopefully, nothing bad comes out of this and this is just some silly mistake."