Weekly Commentary for May 30, 2012
Internet hacking occurrences appear to be on the rise, and while you may think your personal information is safe behind approved and secure websites, that may not always be the case.
On May 25, 2012, the University of Nebraska reported a major security breach in the Nebraska Student Information System, an electronic database that contains more 650,000 personal records of students, alumni and applicants at the four campuses of the University of Nebraska system.
The records include Social Security numbers, addresses, grades, transcripts, housing and financial aid information for current and former students, dating back to 1985. Credit card information, which is stored separately, was not compromised, but 21,000 students with banking information associated with the database for direct deposits and other transactions were warned to monitor their accounts for suspicious activity.
At this time, the university has no clear evidence that any information was downloaded and no instances of identity theft have been connected to this incident. However, all students were encouraged to review identity theft materials posted for consumers on the Federal Trade Commission website at http://www.ftc.gov/idtheft. This website provides detailed information to help all consumers protect themselves from identity theft, and the steps to take if it occurs. If you ever notice suspicious activity, you should report it immediately.
Monitoring accounts for suspicious activity is a good rule of thumb for anyone who has ever provided financial information in an electronic manner over the Internet. Monitoring your bank accounts regularly and reviewing your credit report annually can help you catch any irregularities and potential threats to your identity. Always use caution even when doing business online with legitimate companies over secure websites. Consider using a credit card – not a debit card attached to your bank account – for any online purchases, and set a fairly low limit for that card. If the information should be stolen or hacked, the thief won’t have your bank account information and won’t get far using the credit card either.
Protecting your personal information is important to us. For more information on obtaining and monitoring your accounts and credit history, and for tips on protecting your identity, please call your Denver area financial planner, Jordan Dechtman at 303-741-9772 or email him at Jordan@JordanDechtman.com.