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ID numbers to protect students' identities

This item originally appeared in the January 27, 2005 issue of The Tech Talk.

Any one of the ten students who come into the Tech Express office on average a week to replace a lost or stolen ID will soon be able to rest knowing their identity is being protected.

Starting next summer new ID numbers will be assigned to each Tech student, taking the place of the student's Social Security number which can be used, if placed in the wrong hands, to wreak havoc on the financial future of its owner.

Identity theft is the very reason most professors allow students to bubble in a four-digit number in place of their social security numbers before a test, your banker reminds you to shred any documents that contain that precious number before you toss it out and your employer is required to keep that information a secret.

The Campus-Wide ID system will soon join the ranks of the many safeguards we use every day to protect ourselves, our identity and our financial futures.

This new system was brought about as the administration's response to the concerns of students and parents in the wake of the hundreds and thousands of identity theft cases that come to light every day.

Bob Vento, the university registrar, said he chairs the Campus-Wide ID committee that was formed to resolve the issue of identity theft that was unsettling to parents and student organizations.

"It's not that we decided to change the number, it was brought to our attention by students and the SGA," Vento said. "It all stems from concern about identity theft. We want to help students protect themselves."

Vento said the system is designed to protect the student's social security number and restrict access to it to the departments on campus which are required to have it by law.

Lisa Cole, the comptroller, said she is also a part of a committee working on making sure the systems in facets on campus such as the cafeteria, the Bookstore and the housing office will be prepared for the change by installing compatible systems.

"It affects so many departments on campus," Lisa Cole said. "It affects anywhere the students use their IDs. The purpose of the change to the CWID eight-digit number is so [the students'] Social Security numbers will not be printed on any receipts or any other document."

Your Social Security number allows you to access your bank account over the phone, clock in at work and even check your grades on the Bulldogs Online Student System.

With all that this number can do, it is a given that we all want to protect it. And it is the reason Tech's administration and students have taken steps toward keeping it safe.

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