Students At Risk — University Data Breaches in the News
It’s important to be aware that your children’s online identity and privacy can be compromised not only from their home computer but also inadvertently by educational institutions. The last few months have resulted in online security breaches from universities such as Yale, Purdue and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
In August, Yale announced the names and Social Security numbers of 43,000 people affiliated with the university had been available to view by anyone on Google for the past 10 months. That same week, 7,000 former students of Purdue University had their Social Security numbers exposed to hackers who found a way to gain access to the university’s server. Earlier in the month, the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee discovered malware on a server holding the records of 75,000 past and present students.
In each of these cases, it’s important to keep a close eye on online identity through tools such as SafetyWeb. However for students of this age who likely have established their own credit, it’s imperative to review bank and credit card statements regularly for unusual or suspicious activities such as entries that aren’t recognizable or any new accounts opened in their name. This should be done on an ongoing basis as identity theft information can be held for use at a later date by the criminals who illegally take ownership of it.
It’s also recommended to request a free credit report. You can do so at freecreditreport.com. If any irregularities appear in a credit report or account, inform the appropriate financial institutions to make them aware of problems that occur from the information breach. Equally important is to contact one of the credit reporting agencies to put a fraud alert on your file. You can contact Experian and get credit reports from the three agencies all at once. When one agency is alerted, the other two will be notified and will put the same alert into place.
The Federal Trade Commission can be contacted as well regarding identity theft and fraud at http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/microsites/idtheft/. Taking this step will provide law enforcement access to complaints and can be looked into as part of their investigations. The FTC provides information on additional steps that can be taken for all identity and fraud victims.
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