Eastern Michigan University is investigating two former student employees who are believed to have taken personal identifiable information of approximately 45 students and improperly provided it to a third party.
The data was taken from student records the former student employees had access to during the course of their employment.
The University said the names, date of birth and Social Security numbers were improperly accessed by those students.
Students whose information might have been compromised were notified individually by the University.
Walter Kraft, the Vice President for Communications, said the breach was discovered by EMU’s Department of Public Safety.
“It was through a follow up investigation on a matter unrelated to this that the Department of Public Safety found information about this situation,” Kraft said.
EMU Police, in conjunction with federal authorities, are conducting a thorough investigation into the breach. When something like this occurs, it is standard protocol to contact federal authorities, Kraft said.
“Any time info appears to be issued in a way that’s improper that impact the records or financial records of a student, it’s appropriate,” he said.
Kraft said, due to privacy laws, information about the former student employees and the third party individuals cannot be released at this time.
“We can’t really comment any further,” he said.
When the University is “in the position to talk” and receives more information about the data breach, the campus community will be notified, Kraft said.
According to the University, many students work in settings with access to sensitive information. In those departments, students receive training and mentoring regarding how information should be handled.
Prior to hiring, students sign agreements to keep all information confidential and the university conducts criminal background checks.
When conducting background checks, the University uses the State of Michigan Offender Tracking Information System and Internet Criminal History Access Tool.
If a criminal history check reveals convictions, an evaluation takes place by the hiring authority and a decision will be made whether to confirm or withdraw the offer of employment.
If an unreported conviction is revealed, the student would be referred to the Office of Student Conduct and Community Standards.
Keeping the EMU community abreast in the matter is the university’s top priority, according to Kraft.
“We are taking every precaution we can to notify affected students so that they are aware and informed,” he said.
Kraft guarantees communication between the university and students as the situation unfolds.
“That’s been our priority as an institution—to be open and communicative at the same time,” he said.
The university is advising students to consider placing a fraud alert on their personal credit files. The alert tells creditors to contact you personally before any new accounts are opened. Students are also advised to obtain credit reports to monitor and reduce the likelihood of identity theft.
“We’re advising students as to how to keep their own eye out on their credit reports, which is important,” Kraft said.
Free reports can be obtained once every twelve months on annualcreditreport.com.
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