UAA officials retrieved 17 boxes of unsecured university student, faculty and staff records from an abandoned high school on Adak Island
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 27, 2012
Anchorage, Alaska—University of Alaska Anchorage (UAA) officials recently retrieved 17 boxes of unsecured university student, faculty and staff records from an abandoned high school on Adak Island. The records include documents containing personal information including full names, social security numbers and financial account numbers, and date from 1972-1994, some of the years during which the university operated extensions on military bases on Adak and Shemya islands. Primarily used by military personnel and their families stationed on the Aleutian Islands, the Adak extension enrolled approximately 5,000 students during its years of operation. The bases and associated high school in which the Adak extension site and records were located, have been closed for some 17 years.
The records were recovered by university personnel after UAA received an anonymous tip that university records were still located on Adak. When facilities close or relocate, records are routinely transferred or archived. The last administrator of the extension site is deceased, and it remains unclear why records remained in the high school when the bases closed. To help ensure that a breach such as this one does not occur in the future, the university has adopted procedural safeguards, including assigning responsibilities for records beyond the site director level. This new procedure outlines the process for disposing of records when a campus, department or unit is decommissioned, reorganized or terminated, and can be found at http://www.alaska.edu/records/
Most of the records are badly deteriorated by water and by storage in an unheated, aging and abandoned building. Given the condition of the records, the lapse of time since the site was active, and the fact that all students, faculty and staff would have left the islands more than 17 years ago, current contact information cannot be retrieved from the records. As a result, university officials are issuing this notice to media and posting the notice on its website as required by AS 45.48.010) and University Regulation 05.08.023.
Individuals associated with the Adak-Shemya extension site during the years of 1972 through 1994 may take a number of steps (that only they can take) to check for identity theft. They should request a free copy of their credit report at https://www.annualcreditreport.com/cra/index.jsp
and contact the reporting agency regarding any incorrect information or suspicious activity. They may also place a fraud alert by calling any one of the three credit reporting agencies at the numbers below. The alert will automatically be forwarded to the other two agencies.
· Equifax: 1-800-525-6285; www.equifax.com; P.O. Box 740241, Atlanta, GA 30374-0241
· Experian: 1-888-EXPERIAN (397-3742); www.experian.com; P.O. Box 2002, Allen, TX 75013
· TransUnion: 1-800-680-7289; www.transunion.com; Fraud Victim Assistance Division, P.O. Box 6790, Fullerton, CA 92834-6790
If affected individuals believe they have been a victim of identity theft and have reason to believe that it was associated with their records on Adak, they should file a criminal complaint with UAA police at 907-786-1120. That report can then be used to take the steps needed to protect and clear credit records, like closing fraudulent accounts, contesting charges, placing fraud alerts, filing fraud affidavits, etc. UAA will assist police with inquiries.
According to a 2007 study by the General Accounting Office, electronic data breaches are frequent, but evidence of resulting identity theft is limited. This breach involved paper records at an isolated location. While there are indications that the records had been accessed by unauthorized individuals, the university has received no reports of identity theft related to the records retrieved from Adak Island.
Please note that the university will not initiate any contact with affected individuals about this incident, and will NOT contact them to confirm any information, such as address, social security number, account numbers or pins. If individuals receive such a request, it is NOT from the university and should be regarded with suspicion.
The following references provide additional information about identity theft:
· Social Security Administration Fraud Line, 1-800-269-0271
Media contact: Kristin DeSmith, Office of Advancement, 907-786-1263
Former student contact: Lora Volden, Office of the Registrar, 907-786-1069
Former employee contact: Ron Kamahele, Human Resources, 907-786-1419