After an on-campus break-in at Columbia University, 3 notebook computers that contained personal information such as the names and Social Security numbers of current and prospective students, alumni, and past and present employees were stolen. This sparked a lot of questions, like why there was such personal information stored in these easy to steal laptops, why weren’t the laptops weren’t encrypted with higher security, how they were stolen, and what will all 1,400 victims do now?
Since the incident has been made public, the university has offered the students a free 2 year subscription to a credit monitoring system, and is encouraging them to activate fraud alerts. However, the question that is on everyone’s mind is what happens after those 2 years? With the information being out there, what happens if scammers start stealing these student’s identities in about 10 or 15 years?
Columbia spokesperson Robert Hornsby said that there in no evidence that suggests that the information on those computers has been accessed. The university is also saying that these computers were most likely stolen for their physical value, just as computers and not for the information on them.
“It seems pretty scary… a lot can happen with Social Security numbers… That makes you wonder why the Social Security numbers aren’t protected by the school” says Adrienne Giffen, one of the students.
Students and other victims are advised to join the credit monitoring agencies and activate the fraud alerts. However, after the fraud alerts are activated, it is extremely difficult to get a credit card. They are also told to get a credit report and to keep an eye on it, but one of the downsides of this is that every time you or anyone else checks your credit report, your credit score goes down.
As this story comes to an end, it leaves some questions answered… What happens to the victim’s who’s personal information is out there and might lead to identity theft, if not now, then in the near future? And what about the victims having to always keep an eye on their credit report and having extreme difficulty getting a credit card ever again? Should this burden be left with the students and other victims, or should the college do more than just offer a 2 year subscription to a credit monitoring service?
(Via Columbia Spectator)