Technical glitch could make personal data for some TTU students vulnerable

September 14, 2007

Some 3,100 current or past Tennessee Tech University students who owe the university money were notified today that some of their personal data may have been compromised.

On Tuesday, Sept. 11, a technical problem in the way student bills are printed resulted in the chance that some student social security numbers and personal identification numbers may have been sent to another student's address. While the university suspects the number of records made vulnerable is relatively small, campus officials preferred to err on the side of warning all 3,100 individuals who might have been mailed a bill on that date.

Within a day after the problem was identified, the university e-mailed letters to those affected, notifying them of the problem and outlining steps to help prevent possible fraud.

"We deeply regret this problem, and we are committed to doing what we can to help any who may have been affected avoid the possibility of identity theft or fraud," said Claire Stinson, vice president of Business and Fiscal Affairs.

"Toward that end, we quickly blocked all access to the student web system until the personal identification numbers for any possible affected student Eagle Online account were reset."

The university also notified law enforcement and is contacting the major credit reporting agencies to inform them that some of the students' personal information may have been compromised. Campus officials said they will also conduct regular reviews of student accounts to watch for any suspicious activity.

Students were advised, however, to take steps to protect themselves as well. Information about contacting credit reporting agencies and creating fraud alert systems was mailed to them, and the university created a web site featuring links to the Federal Trade Commission and major credit reporting agencies, as well as a comprehensive question-and-answer page. Details are available at

"A team of individuals representing several offices has discussed the issue and identified several ways to prevent it from happening again," Stinson said. "We are implementing several security measures that should keep a problem like this from recurring."

"Unfortunately, in this age of technology and access, even simple mistakes can have important ramifications. While the majority of students were not affected, we will work with those who might have been to help address concerns."

The university said it will mail new bills shortly and agreed to waive late charges for anyone affected by the problem.

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