University employees may have jeopardized the security of faculty and staff members on all three University campuses by issuing them prescription cards listing their social security numbers.

The University Benefits Office ordered the cards from AdvancePCS, a provider of health improvement services, and sent them out to all faculty and staff members during Winter Break. Each card lists its owner’s social security number as the primary form of identification, although University policy stipulates that an alternative form of identification – usually University ID numbers – be used.

The cards identify faculty as recipients of University medical benefit plans, which are administered by the Benefits Office, but several faculty members expressed concern in light of a nationwide increase in identity theft. Paul Killey, deputy director of the Computer Aided Engineering Network, said he is worried about “using the social security numbers on the card at a prescription counter.”

Killey called the release of the social security numbers “unfortunate” because there are other, more appropriate, methods of identification on campus.

Other faculty said although they are not angry about their numbers being listed, they believe the University is setting a bad example.

“For me personally, I’m not that upset,” School of Information Prof. Margaret Hedstrom said. “But in terms of what I do and what I teach and what I am, I’m quite upset because we are trying to teach our students what good privacy protections are.”

Administrators are discussing what to do in response, Marty Eichstadt, director of the benefits office said.

“We are aware of the concerns of our faculty and staff members. We’re giving this every consideration and we will have more information after Friday,” he said.

The University has already agreed to replace the cards of any faculty or staff member who wants a new card without their social security numbers.The Senate Advisory Committee on University Affairs is looking into the matter after receiving several complaints, SACUA member Rudi Lindner said.

“A certain number of professors have written or spoken with the SACUA office about this and SACUA is engaged in serious discussions with the administration to resolve this problem,” he said. “It is very much at the front of SACUA’s attention right now.”

Despite efforts to resolve the issue, some faculty are not concerned about having their social security numbers listed on the cards.

School of Information Prof. Daniel Atkins said that before being contacted by the Michigan Daily, he did not notice that the card listed his number. He added that he is not concerned because social security numbers are often used for identification.

Lindner said many people have yet to realize the dangers of having accessible social security numbers.

“For some people, keeping their social security numbers private is crucial – for others, they don’t seem to give a damn,” he said.

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