Protecting Your Identity
Identity theft is an unfortunate by-product of our data-driven culture. By definition identity theft occurs when someone uses your personal information, such as your name, Social Security number, Student ID number, or credit card number to commit theft or fraud, among other crimes.
There are many ways that students can protect their personal information, as well as steps that UMass Amherst takes to provide further protection.
What You Can Do
- Memorize all of your PIN numbers and passwords. If you must write them down, do so in a very safe place and do not indicate in any way what accounts the passwords match.
- Never tell anyone your passwords or PINs.
- Do not lend computers and accounts to others. Protect Social Security and Student ID numbers and only give them out when it is essential.
- Never give any credit card, bank, or social security information to anyone over the telephone.
- Take great care when using social networking Internet sites like MySpace, Facebook, TagWorld and Bebo, or video sites like YouTube. Do not post risky, sensitive, or potentially embarrassing personal information or videos.
- If you are the victim of identity theft contact the UMPD at 413-545-2121 immediately.
What UMass Amherst Does
ID Numbers: UMass Amherst does not use Social Security numbers as student IDs. Instead, we assign students a randomly generated eight-digit number with no encoded information.
Student Information: The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) provides guidelines for how we must protect student information. FERPA is a federal law that protects the confidentiality of student records. The law requires that UMass Amherst must have a student’s written permission to release information from their records to any third party, including parents, spouses, or employers.
Students need a user ID and password to access their information. Only staff members in a student services role are able to view confidential information, and they must have compelling academic reasons to do so. Any staff member who works with student information must go through FERPA training and become certified in the proper way to access and handle confidential data.
The Office of Information Technologies (OIT) Web site provides information about the FERPA waiver.