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Penn College to Protect Social Security Numbers

Addressing mounting concerns about identity theft, and recognizing that Social Security numbers are linked to a significant amount of personal information, Pennsylvania College of Technology plans to replace the numbers as the primary identifier of students and employees.

In place of Social Security numbers, the College will assign a unique, nine-digit Penn College ID number that will be the primary identifier used for all College business. The College hopes to complete the conversion to the new system by January 2005.

The multi-phase project will affect academic and administrative procedures College-wide. The College will continue to collect Social Security numbers for reporting and taxation purposes, but their use will be strictly limited.

Information Technology Services at Penn College will act as the central coordination point for the conversion project. A Social Security number project team with representatives from around the College has been established to address issues associated with the conversion. ITS will work with selected software vendors to coordinate all required database changes.

Converting the College’s computer systems is just one aspect of the initiative. Every College office will review processes and forms, ID-card applications and departmental systems to determine the impact of the conversion project.

All processes, forms and systems that use Social Security numbers as a primary identifier must change to reflect the new Penn College ID.

The Federal Trade Commission reports that 42 percent of all consumer complaints it received in 2003 were related to identity theft up from 40 percent in 2002 and 39 percent in 2001.

According to a survey by Gartner Inc., a Stamford, Conn.-based research and advisory firm, 7 million adults nationwide (3.4 percent of U.S. consumers) were victims of identity theft during the 2002-03 fiscal year.

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