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The SSN Initiative

SSN Initiative (2007-2009)

The University undertook a comprehensive initiative to phase out systematically its use of Social Security numbers (SSNs) wherever possible. Although SSNs must be collected for selected business functions, such as meeting Federal requirements to produce W-2 tax forms and financial aid reporting, the University altered other business functions to use University ID numbers in place of SSNs wherever possible.

The transition away from SSN use took time and involved some inconvenience and process disruption. However, the resulting enhancement in the privacy and security of personal information the University must maintain about its students, faculty, and staff made the effort very worthwhile.

View the Multilayered Plan for University Data Minimization (PDF, 140 KB)

The overview presentation (given at multiple sessions during the initial initiative roll out) is available as a PDF in both short and full form:

SSN Policy

The University Policy Office announced the issuance of University Policy IRM-014, Protection & Use of Social Security Numbers on 12/10/07.

The policy specifies limited conditions under which SSNs may be collected, used and/or reported. Its implementation reduces the University's risk of unauthorized exposure of SSNs by minimizing the amount of SSN data stored and increasing the security of these data stores.

U.Va. Institutional Data Protection Standards

These define standards for protection and use of all institutional data including highly sensitive data, which include SSNs.

Records Retention and SSNs

For detailed guidance regarding retention requirements for records containing SSN, see Records Guidance for Highly Sensitive Data.

Identity Finder Software Available to Faculty and Staff

Identity Finder software can be used to scan computer hard drives and other electronic storage media for SSN and credit card data. The University has purchased a bulk license for this product, providing free copies for University faculty and staff. For more information, see Identity Finder at UVa.