Suffolk C.C.C. Releases Student Social Security Numbers


Suffolk County Community College (SCCC) (Long Island, NY) may have compromised the identity of as many as three hundred of its students due to mistakenly releasing their social security numbers along with their names in an email message to them this past September. That error has raised the possibility of identity theft for the affected students, forcing the college to take special steps to reduce that risk.

Mistake Discovered, College Response

college studentThe mistake was made on September 17th and discovered early the next day. Immediately, SCCC shut down its servers and attempted to retrieve unopened messages and attachments. According to Newsday, the daily newspaper for Long Island, the school declined to say how much personal information was recovered or whether disciplinary action was taken against the people responsible for sending out the information.

Once the college discovered their mistake, affected students were notified by US mail of the security breach. Students were urged to register alerts with the three major credit reporting bureaus (Experian, TransUnion and Equifax) who monitor credit information. The next week, SCCC followed up that letter with information on how they could get free credit monitoring from TransUnion for a year, the cost of that service picked up by the college.

Identity Theft Protection Tips

Students everywhere should be alarmed by what happened at SCCC and be on the alert if they receive a broadcast email message from their school with their social security number next to their name. Some schools may send a direct message to one student which shows their personal information only, but if that information is broadcast (shared) with multiple parties, then you potentially are at risk of identity theft.

Americans can obtain free copies of their credit reports from Experian, TransUnion and Equifax by visiting a website managed by all three companies to provide that information to consumers for free. Thanks to an act of Congress, consumers are allowed to request one free copy annually of their credit report from each company, reports which give detailed information about that person’s credit history. Available through, these reports should be scrutinized for mistakes, with the bureaus notified if errors or suspect activity is noted.

Students may also want to visit the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) website for information on how to avoid identity theft, taking note of tips on how to avoid phishing schemes and how to file a compliant with the FTC if their personal information has been compromised.

Adv. — If you have already found the college you want to attend, get prepared to apply to that school as early right now (early action or early decision). If you’re still undecided, then do an online college search to find the schools of interest to you and print out a Summary Aid Map to help you plan your financial aid strategy.


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Categories: Campus News