(PRWEB) January 22, 2005
More than 15,500 students and staff at the University of Northern Colorado (UNC) may be in jeopardy of identity theft after a university computer hard drive containing confidential personal and financial information was announced to be missing by UNC President Kay Norton on Thursday, Jan.20. As reported by Mike Peters of the Greeley Tribune, the external hard drive contained names, addresses, Social Security numbers, bank account numbers, dates of birth and pay schedules for students and staff dating back to April 1997.
And officials are now warning that the hard drive may also contain the personal data of the beneficiaries of employees as well, bringing the total number of possible victims to 30,000.
Although it's not yet known whether the computer drive has been stolen, lost or simply misplaced, identity theft concerns are prevalent throughout the UNC community.
"It could be devastating to one of these people at UNC if this hard drive is actually in the hands of an identity theft criminal," according to Larry Basinger with http://www.Identity-Theft-Advisor.Com. "Just with your Social Security number, an identity theft criminal can take over your identity. But with your name, address, SS number and bank account numbers, one of these ruthless criminals can completely take over your identity without you even knowing it for years. And we're not just talking about charging up some bills on your credit cards. The truly devastating thefts occur when criminals use the information to get driver's licenses, jobs, houses, and even break federal laws in your good name. People have gone to jail for years for crimes committed by an identity theft criminal before they could finally clear their names."
According to the Federal Trade Commission and the FBI, identity theft is now the leader in financial crimes against Americans and continues to increase at an alarming rate. Identity theft criminals have victimized over 27.3 million people in the past 5 years, and it is predicted to increase by another 1 million people per year. With one out of every 10 Americans now being victimized by these ruthless criminals, The Identity Theft Advisor's web site at http://www.identity-theft-advisor.com gives consumers the awareness and ability to actively fight against a crime that can utterly devastate, even imprison the most honest citizen.
Although law enforcement, Congress and President Bush have enacted new laws and legislation (i.e. 1998 Identity Theft Act; 2004 Identity Theft Penalty Enhancement Act) as a deterrent to identity theft, at present only 5% of identity theft crimes are ever prosecuted. With little concern for criminal prosecution, new and smarter predators are entering the market in record numbers, and the consumer is left to defend the security of their own individual and family's identities alone.
"The students and faculty at UNC need to take proactive measures in protecting their identities if, in fact, the hard drive has been stolen with criminal intent," said Basinger. "These people may even consider using the new "Security Freeze" on their personal information at the credit bureaus which is available in some states as reported by the Associated Press at http://www.identity-theft-advisor.com/ap.htm. Hiring a professional service to monitor and protect your credit is an option as well, but they need to explore all preventative and protective measures available to them to fight against their own identity theft."