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Experts: Schools needlessly exposing students to ID theft

Dec 19, 2011 Karen Umpierre

Identity theft is a growing concern across every demographic. But perhaps due to less stringent levels of protection, children are perhaps more exposed than others to the compromising of important financial data. A string of recent news stories show schools are to blame for not protecting students' social security numbers. The frequent data breaches, which number in the dozens, have provoked demands for schools to stop collecting such sensitive student data. While the compromising of student identities does not guarantee theft or manipulation, it certainly raises the risk. A recent report by Javelin Research found data breaches leave people six times more likely to become victims of identity theft. Some schools encourage parents to monitor their childrens' credit, but a Debix study shows credit reports only display 1 percent of fraud on children's credit histories. "The collection of students' Social Security numbers is the result of a campaign to more precisely track their progress," reports Gerry Smith for the Huffington Post. "But privacy experts say there are less risky ways to identify students, accusing schools of needlessly exposing children to identity theft by gathering their Social Security numbers in central databases with lackluster security."