In early February, Salt Lake Community College told students and staff it had lost a memory device containing tax information for about 42,000 students.
The drive, which was lost in transit to SLCC from Phoenix, included information with students’ names, addresses, tuition and fees paid, and the last four digits of social security numbers. School officials, however, say it’s not likely student information has been shared.
“We believe there is not a credible threat to identity security, and it is very unlikely the content on the device was compromised,” the college said in a Feb. 8 email to students.
The school has contracted with Arizona-based Standard Printing Company since 2012 to format 1098-T tax documents, which is an IRS tax form filed by eligible education institutions to report payments received and payments due from students. The institution has to report a form for every student currently enrolled and paying qualifying tuition and related expenses.
SLCC uses a secured cloud server to give the company access to the information, then after documents are formatted, the information is backed up and sent to the college on a memory drive. The envelope arrived damaged at SLCC earlier this month and the drive was missing.
Some students, however, were not aware documents potentially containing personal information was lost.
Justin Rowe, a student who works in the financial aid office, was unaware of the event.
Another student, Rachel Wilkin, says she had heard about the lost information and considers it to be potentially “dangerous.” She also said that she believed this to be “annoying and unprofessional.”
Those are concerns the college has been answering since sending the email to students.
Joy Tlou, public relations director for SLCC, says the college is still working with Standard Printing to find the device. Though Tlou says this is a serious matter, they are not worried student identity is compromised.
“The security folks are confident that someone can’t steal identities from the memory on the device,” he says. Tlou did, however, suggest students pay attention to and monitor their personal and financial data.
The email, sent by the registrar’s office, explained the situation, prompting “a lot of feedback from students,” Tlou says. Most of those messages, he says, thanked the school for letting students know about the lost drive.
The email also states, “we believe there is not a credible threat to identity security, and it is very unlikely the content on the device was compromised” and contains a link to a PDF file that contains more information on 1098-T tax forms.