Watch Your StagCards: Identity Theft Prevalent Among College Students Nationwide

Watch Your StagCards: Identity Theft Prevalent Among College Students Nationwide

Bill Klump
4/5/2007 – What do checking e-mail, using wireless Internet, registering for classes and ordering a Dimitri Special from the Levee all have in common? All require students to surrender either, or in most cases both, their ID numbers and passwords.

According to a U-Wire article on identity protection, attorney and privacy consultant, Mari Frank, said that in the past year over 15 million college students have been victims of identity theft. Frank added that the current batch of students are more susceptible than any of the classes of past generations.

“The [current] generation has grown up with computers and doesn’t have the worries about privacy and security that maybe my generation has,” Frank said.

At Fairfield, students’ lives revolve around their StagCard. Meals, books, clothes and access to most buildings on campus are all off-limits if students lose their card.

If a student’s ID number and password are leaked, access to academic and financial records become available to anyone who comes across the information.

“[The administration] should probably limit the amount of personal information that is kept on a student’s StagCard or StagWeb account,” said James Sinon ’10.

Fairfield Executive Assistant and Business Manager Mike Tortora said he feels confident about the protection of students’ identities.

“At every turn, students are asked to authenticate their identity,” he said. “All personal records of students, employees and faculty are kept in the Banner system, which is extremely secure. At this point in time, I haven’t heard of any theft,” he said.

Students, including Adam DiMiceli ’09, agree with Tortora and are confident about the security of their StagCard account information.

“[Identity theft] doesn’t happen too often,” he said. “If it does, you can cancel your StagCard immediately. Right now I don’t think it’s that big of a deal.”

Caitlin Messerle ’08 had a similar opinion regarding identity security on campus.
“[StagWeb] makes you change your password to keep it from being stolen. They also used to have a student’s social security number as the ID number, and they changed that to protect students,” she said.

Tortora elaborated on other measures the University takes so that students’ personal information is not compromised.

“Besides policies currently in place, each employee is bound to certain standards,” he said. “There is an acceptable use policy students must agree to, which safeguards any information on students.”

Despite Tortora’s assurances and the general feeling of personal security from students, some students feel they might be at risk for identity theft.

“If you forget your password, they will send you another one. If you knew someone else’s e-mail account then you could probably just reset the new password,” said Nick Venuti ’10.

John Picyk ’10 cited how easy it is to use someone else’s StagCard around campus.

“None of the employees ever look at the picture, and if you find a lost card it wouldn’t be too difficult to use it.”

The issue of personal security is one that may cause anxiety among students no matter how fool-proof a system may appear. However, the opinions of several students on campus reflect a job well done by the administration.

Jenna Marcinczyk ’09 said, “I’ve never had, or heard of anyone having, any problems with identity theft. If you start doing something else on your computer, the Web site kicks you off after like five minutes, and you have to re-enter the password and ID number.

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