U. of C. mailing mistake reveals 9,000 social security numbers - FOX 32 News Chicago

U of C mailing mistake reveals 9,000 social security numbers

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

This week, 9,000 University of Chicago employees got something in the mail they didn't want: postcards with their own social security numbers printed publicly.

The postcards were supposed to be a reminder about open enrollment, but now the school could spend $500,000 to fix the mistake.

On the Hyde Park campus, many employees were reluctant to talk on camera, but all were stunned to learn that this had happened.

"I think it was a bit of incompetence on the part of the university," says University of Chicago Professor Emeritus Mel Rothenberg. "And they should probably guarantee people for the rest of their lives in a way for security protection. Because, as you say, the threat doesn't end after one year."

Without explaining how it happened, the university said that sensitive social security numbers had "inadvertently" been printed on postcards mailed to University of Chicago employees last Monday, right next to their names and addresses.

Acknowledging the danger of identity theft, the university sent a letter on Friday to everyone at risk, apologizing and offering to pay for one year of credit monitoring to catch any wrongdoing.

"It's semi-adequate. They are doing the right thing. But the problem may persist beyond a year. So I would recommend that people, not only during this first year, check your credit report. You can do that for free three times a year," explains Identity Theft Expert Jeff Lanza.

Indeed, in Friday's letter to employees, the University of Chicago included the internet addresses and toll free phone numbers of the three major credit reporting agencies. They also said that those who have not yet disposed of the postcard containing their social security number should do so "in a secure fashion."

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