Anyone who has a class in the Flipse building or parks their car in the Ponce Garage may have noticed several filing cabinets and a cart left open next to the stairwell. While this doesn’t immediately present a problem, the contents of the unattended storage facilities included sensitive information about UM students.
Today, individuals go to great lengths to protect personal information such as their Social Security number with the increased threat of identity theft. Yet, the Department of Public Safety unintentionally left index cards displaying information that included the name, address, date of birth, height and weight, description of the person, student number and the offense or date of the offense.
The Department of Safety was unaware that the documentation cards were left in a place where anyone could obtain access to them when questioned.
“I don’t know anything about it,” Henry Christensen, director of the Department of Safety said.
After being notified of the situation, the office investigated the materials and why they were left our in the open.
“The dispatch room is being renovated,” Christensen said. “The contractors must’ve moved the file out.”
The cards were a cross index used for dispatch records. They contained information on students who had parking issues or other offenses on campus.
“They were old card files that are going to be destroyed,” Christensen said. “The information is now in the computer system.”
The cards appeared dusty and did not have recent dates on them, giving the appearance that they did not contain information about current students.
“They haven’t been used in about 20 years,” Christensen said. “Still, they shouldn’t have been left out.”
Despite the fact that the cards were outdated, the display of easy access sensitive information is still a subject for concern. The cards are presumed to have been left out for an extended period of time-a few weeks at the least.
“They have probably been out there since the contractors started renovating,” Christensen said.
Although most students who saw the files and cards did not take a further look, many were concerned about the students’ information being unprotected.
Taneille Clouden, sophomore, was born in Trinidad and had to apply for a Social Security number when she moved to the U.S. She said she values this identity and expressed concern that the University left such information unprotected.
“It took a lot for me to get my Social Security number,” Clouden said. “So, it’s really important to me.”
The Department of Safety admitted their negligence in leaving the information in an unsecured location. Subsequently, officials assured The Hurricane that they would move the cart and filing cabinets inside where they could be monitored until they were shredded.
Stacey Arnold can be contacted at email@example.com.