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Penn College Rolls Out New ID Numbers, Cards

Identity Theft Concerns (Excerpted from a Penn State University news release)

Identity theft is soaring to new heights in America. As many as 7 million adults have been the victim of identity theft the use of an individual’s personal information to commit fraud or theft in the past year ending June 2003, according to a recent report by Gartner Inc. (and cited in this Penn State University news release). This is a 79-percent increase in reported cases over that 12-month period, the report continues.

Surprisingly, victims aren’t just falling prey to strangers or gangs of professional criminals. “More than half of all identity theft . . . is committed by criminals that have established relationships with their victims, such as family members, roommates, neighbors or co-workers,” said Avivah Litan, vice president and research director for Gartner Inc.

According to the Federal Trade Commission, these criminals are able to steal identification numbers by using a wide variety of hi- and low-tech methods that include intercepting personal information transmitted over the Internet, illegally viewing business or personnel files, and rummaging through trash for personal data. Regardless of how someone’s identity is stolen, it can take the victim years to correct the damage done to his or her personal and financial files.

Penn College Responds To address concerns of identify theft and privacy issues, Penn College has worked for the past year on a project to replace Social Security numbers as the primary identifier of students and employees. The new identifier, the PCT ID, will replace SSNs except as required for reporting and taxation purposes, as outlined in official College policy.

The project impacts administrative procedures in departments College-wide, particularly those involved with collecting student and employee data or processing information requests.

Most business processes and online systems that previously used SSNs as a primary identifier have been changed to reflect the use of the new Penn College ID. Forms now request either PCT ID or Student/Employee ID numbers rather than SSNs.

As part of the project’s final phase, new identification cards bearing the PCT ID will be distributed to the entire campus population beginning next week.

The implementation of the new PCT IDs will also require a behavior change as students and employees conduct business on campus. Rather than verbally reciting a memorized identification number, students and employees must present a valid ID card. Department staff will retrieve the ID number directly from the cards or will use computerized card readers.

Details of the PCT ID implementation plan are available in the second half of this article.

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