New numbers to remember

PSU has begun a transition from using Social Security numbers asstudent and faculty ID numbers. The process is an ongoing effort toaddress privacy and identity theft concerns surrounding SocialSecurity number use.

Students may get their first notice of the change when loggingon to Banweb to register for classes this week. Once logged in witha Social Security Numbers and PIN, students will see their new,randomly generated nine-digit identification numbers, which theycan use interchangeably with their Social Security number duringthe transition period.

Students who have been issued a non-Social Security number astheir ID number will keep their current numbers.

With the switch to the Higher One OneCard from the currentstudent ID card imminent, Executive Director of Office ofInformation Technologies Mark Gregory stressed that switching fromSocial Security numbers to numbers with less potential for identitytheft is not connected to the Higher One project.

“It’s happening concurrently with Higher One,” Gregory said,”but it’s driven by people’s privacy interest.”

What about the other numbers already assigned to students, suchas badge numbers and bar codes found on student ID cards?

Those will still be used to access facilities, said Barb Jones,system administrator for the Office of Business Affairs, but sincethose numbers can change, they weren’t considered as the newnumber.

“You as a unique person can have a driver’s license and creditcards. They all have different numbers, but they don’t uniquelyidentify you. If you lose your credit card, you get a differentnumber,” Jones said, adding that badge numbers are similarly tiedto a student’s Social Security number and, starting now, the newnumber.

By winter term, the Office of Information Technology announced,Social Security number use will be phased out.

“This is going on all over, not just PSU,” Jones said.

Widespread use of Social Security numbers has caused concernbecause of how much important personal information is linked tothem – and the more often they are used, the easier they are tosteal.

Social Security numbers have served at other universities asaccess to buildings, library services, class registration andcomputer logins. At Rutgers University in 1992, seven studentslodged complaints about use of Social Security number on classrosters, ID cards, and as access to grade information.

A September U.S News and World Report article reported thatabout half of U.S. colleges use a Social Security number as astudent’s primary ID number.