SSNs & Education
In an effort to combat identity theft, the Social Security Administration (SSA) is initiating a public information program to encourage educational institutions to avoid using a student’s Social Security Number (SSN) as the student identifier. Identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes in American society. The routine and often indiscriminate use of SSNs as identifiers creates several opportunities for individuals to inappropriately obtain personal information about a student and/or member of faculty.
SSNs are repetitively used and disclosed in a variety of documents such as applications for admissions, transcripts, registration forms, class rosters, computer log on, admission postcards, and grade postings. Sometimes the SSN is posted to the student identification card. The use of the SSN in the above fashion multiplies the susceptibility of students to potential identity theft.
Through misuse of SSNs, employees, faculty, and staff of educational institutions are subject to the danger of identity theft and its repercussions. Access to an individual’s SSN can enable a thief to obtain information that can result in significant financial difficulties for the victim. While this can be disruptive for students and staff it can also lead to civil liability for an educational institution and its individual employees if someone is harmed by information that has been made available to others.
We have prepared this site for educational institutions to encourage the use of alternative identifiers, share best practices and practices to avoid, and provide resources to prevent identity theft. We are certain if we work together, we will help to combat identity theft and ensure the Social Security Numbers are better protected.