Hackers broke into the University of Maryland database system this week, stealing full names, Social Security numbers and birthdays (among other personal information) of hundreds of thousands of students and staff. This data breach is very different from other recent hacks, such as the Target breach, as a compromised Social Security number puts your identity at greater risk for problems down the road.
In the Target breach, credit card companies were able to issue new cards to affected customers, but it’s not as easy to issue someone a new Social Security number. In fact, the only way to be considered for a new Social Security number is if there is proof that yours has been repeatedly misused. In addition, your Social Security number is linked to more than just your personal identity: your finances, health records, tax records and employment can all be compromised. Click here for more information from the Social Security Administration.
Ways to protect yourself:
- Monitor all your accounts. Your credit card, bank statements, health records, taxes: all of these are at risk when your Social Security number is compromised.
- In his letter, President Loh says the University will offer free credit monitoring for those affected for one year. That’s a great place to start, but the reality is that you’ll have to keep monitoring your accounts for a lot longer than the next 365 days. Watch here for updates on when it will become available.
- If you find out someone has used your Social Security number or other personal information, you’ll have to report the fraud. Click here for more on where to report identity theft.
If you have additional questions about the data breach for the University of Maryland, call 301-405-4440 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.