Identity Fraud On-Campus: Why Student Identity Theft Protection is Wise

Posted by robertwell on June 14th, 2013

Identity theft is currently among the most rampant crimes committed in the United States. Contrary to popular belief, you do not need to have a credit card or a credit history to fall victim to this threatening violation. Thieves use all kinds of personal information to wreak havoc on a stranger’s life, and a credit card number is just one out of many pieces of personal information they feed upon. They find ways to steal your name, address, social security number, driver’s license, bank account number, and even debit PIN numbers. For this reason, identity theft affects people of all ages, including college students.

Most college students generally feel safe walking, eating, learning, and even living on campus. A college campus is a safe community of students working to achieve the same end goal: graduation. Parents of on-campus living students are more comfortable with the thought of their kids being away from home than those of students who live off-campus in isolated and questionably safe parts of town. Yet despite the cursory sensation of security the on-campus experience provides, it is still an appropriate setting in which to consider a student identity theft protection plan.

On Wednesday, May 29, 2013, over 5,000 students attending the University of Florida in Gainesville were alerted that they may have had their personal and medical information compromised. Students who were patients at UF Pediatric Primary Care Clinic at Tower Square (now just UF Health Pediatrics – Tower Square) were believed to have had their identities snatched by a member of the clinic’s personnel who had ties to an identity theft ring. The university then offered a year’s worth of identity protection plan services for students who suspected identity theft stemming from the incident or who confirmed they had become victims as a result of the security breach.

The Office of State Attorney, the IRS, and the US Secret Service continue to investigate the state-wide identity theft ring. The employee since the time of the incident has been released and investigated. With the pediatric patient records he accessed, the employee could have stolen thousands of names, addresses, dates of birth, and social security numbers. Whether or not he used them for crime is unclear; accessing personal information was part of his job responsibilities. But because of his connection to the widespread identity theft ring, law enforcement has taken action against him.

Students and parents were notified and sent letters with tips on how to protect their identities and what to do in case their identities have been assumed. Much information is available on the internet and many affordable third-party protection services are available.

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