Date: July 18, 2013
To: All University Students
From: Dr. James C. Turner, Student Health
Re: Information on inadvertent use of student Social Security numbers
I write to make certain you are aware of a recent, inadvertent use of Social Security numbers belonging to approximately 18,700 U.Va. students. This occurred during the mailing of a brochure containing information about the U.Va. Student Health Insurance Plan provided by Aetna Student Health. Along with names and addresses, Social Security numbers were printed on the brochures, although they were not identified or formatted as SSNs.
The brochures were mailed on July 3, 2013, but we were not made aware of the problem until July 11, 2013. We immediately updated the computer program used to gather the student information to prevent any recurrence. We then moved as quickly as possible to investigate what happened, identify the affected students, and notify them. We deeply regret that this occurred, and we are taking immediate steps to mitigate the situation.
On Friday, we are mailing letters to all students who were affected. The letters include general information and instructions for enrolling in a free, one-year credit monitoring service. The service will detect possible misuse of personal information and provide identity protection services. We have also established a toll-free call-in center for students and parents who have questions or concerns; the letter includes a special 10-digit reference code for accessing the call-in center. The center is staffed by trained professionals who are fully informed about the incident and the resources available to students.
Students and parents deserve a full explanation of how this happened. When the University provided student information to Aetna for this mailing, we inadvertently used an out-of-date computer program that automatically included Social Security numbers along with names and mailing addresses. In recent years, we have almost completely eliminated Social Security numbers as student-identifiers, although we still have numbers in some cases that are required. For example, Federal student financial aid requires a Social Security number, and the numbers are needed for some health care transactions.
In spite of these realities, we do not wish to make excuses for this occurrence, and we deeply regret the concern it may cause our students just as they are preparing to come to Charlottesville for the beginning of the fall semester. I assure you that the safety and security of our students remain our foremost concerns, and protecting their personal identity is part of that commitment.
James C. Turner, M.D.
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Last Modified: Tuesday, 23-Jul-2013 15:58:34 EDT
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