Some BU students' Social Security info e-mailed to others

March 17, 2008

By John Hill, Press & Sun-Bulletin

The Social Security numbers of more than 300 Binghamton University students were accidentally e-mailed to a list of hundreds of other students on Friday.

A university employee mistakenly sent an e-mail attachment containing the names, grade point averages and Social Security numbers of junior and senior accounting students to another group of 288 School of Management students.

There has been no indication that any students' information has been misused, BU spokeswoman Gail Glover said Monday night.

The e-mail, sent by the Coordinator of Undergraduate Advising for the School of Management Brian Perry, was supposed to go to accounting faculty members seeking input on student awards. It also should not have contained "unnecessary information," the university told students in a letter informing them of the situation.

Shortly after the e-mail was sent, Perry sent a second e-mail, saying he had "screwed up in my address book" and advised students to delete the first message. He did not say that the students' Social Security numbers were contained in the original e-mail.

The university is conducting an investigation into how the incident occurred and examining how the school can further shore up its information security, Glover said.

"Of course you can imagine we're taking the issue very, very seriously," said Glover.

Glover declined to say if the university would seek disciplinary action.

The university alerted students to the mistake by e-mail and regular letter later Friday, Glover said.

In the letter, Vice President for Administration James Van Voorstapologized to the affected students and referred them to several credit agencies for further assistance. Glover said Upinder Dhillon, dean of the School of Management, and other staff would also be available to advise students.

The students have been told to call the School of Management or e-mail Dhillon for further help. But junior accounting major Paul Strenk, one of the student's whose information was compromised, said it's still going to fall on the affected students to deal with the problem.

"You've got to take this upon yourself to fix it," said Strenk, who noted the issue comes at an especially bad time when he and other students are preparing for mid-term exams.

main page ATTRITION feedback