Imagine finding out that criminals may have gotten their hands on your social security number. That's exactly what some UCCS students are dealing with. The university is notifying nearly 800 students and alumni that some of their personal information may have been on a stolen laptop.
That laptop was taken from a professor's home on July 5th after the home was burglarized.
UCCS officials aren't releasing the professor’s name nor are they saying what subject they taught.
Monday UCCS started sending out letters to students telling them what happened. A total of 766 students who attended classes at UCCS between 2003 and 2009 will be receiving the letters in the mail.
"If they get a letter than their data possibly could be compromised,” said Jerry Wilson, Executive Director of Information Technology at UCCS. He says of the 766 names they believe were on the stolen laptop, 241 may have had social security numbers attached. That’s because up until 2005 UCCS used social security numbers as ID numbers.
"It had class rosters which has name and grades, but they don't always have social security numbers or students id's,” Wilson said.
UCCS hopes the letter will help. It tells students what they can do to protect themselves from identity theft and what they should do if they discover they've become a victim.
Read a copy of the letter below.
11 News asked officials at UCCS why it took them three weeks to notify students about the stolen laptop and they told me it simply took that long for them to figure out exactly what was on the laptop and who was involved.
UCCS say they are also working to encrypt all personal info on laptop computers to help prevent something like this from happening again.
STUDENT FIRST NAME:
We are writing to advise you that a university laptop computer containing student information was stolen between July 5 and July 6, 2009 from the home of a UCCS faculty member. Other items were also stolen from the home.
The laptop contained class roster information – name, student ID number, e-mail address, graduating class year and grade information – for about 766 current and past UCCS students. No financial information was stored on the laptop, but there is a possibility that Social Security numbers may have been involved for students enrolled prior to summer, 2005. We are notifying you because our records indicate you are one of the students whose personal information was present on the laptop. Although we have no evidence that an unauthorized individual has actually retrieved and is using your personal data, we are bringing this incident to your attention, in accordance with Colorado law, so that you can be extra alert to signs of any possible misuse of your identity.
Please visit the Federal Trade Commission’s website:
to learn about identity theft and about actions you can take to prevent, discover and/or recover from identity theft. You may also wish to call one of the major credit bureaus below to request a fraud alert.
• Experian – 1-888-EXPERIAN (397-3742)
• Trans Union – 1-800-680-7289
• Equifax – 1-800-525-6285
UCCS takes seriously its responsibility to secure information with which the university is entrusted and regrets this loss of data. UCCS continues to detect and eliminate unauthorized Social Security numbers on university-owned computers. Also, the university will continue working with departments to encrypt all personally identifiable data on laptop computers and portable devices to help prevent this situation from occurring in the future. Should you have further questions about this matter, please contact Jerry Wilson, UCCS Executive Director of Information Technology and Chief Technology Officer, at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 719-255-3594.
Ralph J. Wilson
Jerry Wilson, Executive Director of IT and Chief Technology Officer
University of Colorado at Colorado Springs
Click on the link below for more information about protecting yourself from identity theft.