LIU: Defect puts students at risk of ID theft

February 12, 2008

By Andrew Scharff,0,6745463.story

Long Island University has sent letters to 25,000 to 30,000 students informing them that tax forms mailed to them last week in "defective mailers" might have led to identity theft, and recommended that students put fraud alerts on their credit files.

The mailers containing each student's annual 1098-T "Tuition Statement" were supposed to have adhesive on all four sides. But one side of each envelope was missing adhesive, according to LIU officials, which caused about half of the statements to be damaged by U.S. Postal Service processing machinery.

A 1098-T tuition statement, which has to be sent to every student who paid tuition in the 2007 calendar year and postmarked by Jan. 31, contains the student's name, address and Social Security number.

The mailers were sent to students at all of LIU'S campuses, including C.W. Post in Brookville.

"The likelihood of identity theft is low," said LIU treasurer and vice president for finance Robert N. Altholz. "But for some period of time the names, addresses and Social Security numbers were available to the people in the post office. But we have no reason to believe that anyone's information was used or has been taken."

Altholz said the university has mailed out new statements to all students, using mailers from a different vendor.

"Of course, I don't feel good about having my personal information out there," said junior education major Joanna DeMauro, who attends C.W. Post. "This is the first I am hearing about this incident."

Altholz acknowledged that some students have expressed concern about the damaged mailing.

In the letter, a copy of which was obtained by Newsday, the school said it followed state law by also notifying the state attorney general, state Consumer Protection Board, state Office of Cyber Security and three leading consumer credit reporting agencies regarding the possible data exposure.

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