Wherever you go on campus, it is always with you. You are asked to present it as you walk into many buildings on campus, when you have a question about your financial aid and when you want to pay your bill. Even when you go to the computer lab or want to check out a book at the library, you give it out without thinking much about it. Meanwhile, if it falls into wrong hands, it can be used as a tool in identity theft – a rapidly growing crime in America. It is your Social Security number.
Available to anyone who scans your Temple ID, your Social Security number is also used as your Temple identification number. With introduction of the new TUid policy, your private information will be more secure.
In September 2004, the University adopted a policy that would eliminate all usage of students’ social security numbers. Starting in July, Temple students, faculty and staff will receive a new nine-digit Temple University identification number, or TUid, which will be used for all routine administrative functions. Also, all students, faculty and staff will receive a new picture ID, the OWLcard, with the new TUid printed on its bottom right corner. Faculty and staff were given the chance to retake their ID pictures. Students do not have that option.
Barbara Dolhansky, the associate vice president of Administrative Computer Services, said the new policy is motivated by an increase in recent reports of identity theft. Its primary goal is “to eliminate the use of private and personal piece of information, which is the Social Security number,” Dolhansky said.
According to the brochure released by Computer Services, the TUid will be applied through a conversion process to all student records dating back to 1963, and to all employee records dating back to 1984.
The new OWLcards will be distributed to faculty and continuing students in the first few weeks of May and to all other employees in early June. However, the new TUid and the OWLcard will not be used until July.
The cards will be distributed before the end of the spring semester because those students who might come back on campus during the summer break will need their new TUids for all administrative purposes. Once the switch is made, old Temple IDs will no longer work.
All students who are not graduating in May and are registered for the Spring 2005 semester will receive their OWLcards regardless of their registration status for the Fall 2005 semester.
To receive the OWLcards students are required to present their current Temple ID or any other form of photo identification. Since the OWLcards will not be effective until July, students should hold on to their current IDs. Once they are sure that the OWLcard is active and working properly, the old card should be destroyed, as it contains students’ personal information.
The official dates for distribution of OWLcards as well as the dates of the switch from current IDs will be announced by Computer Services later on in the semester. Students, faculty and staff will be notified by e-mail about these dates. The information will also be posted on the project Web site at https://ssn2tuid.temple.edu.
Although it will be eliminated from all routine administrative procedures, the social security number will still be on file in Temple’s database as it is required by law for tax reporting and financial aid processing. Students, therefore, will need their social security numbers when filling out tax documents and financial aid applications.
With the conversion from current Temple IDs to the OWLcards, all student information such as parking privileges, building access, meal plans and Diamond Dollars will be automatically transferred to the OWLcard. With all the information being transferred, students do not need to get their picture taken again – the picture from the current ID will be used.
Students on campus see the new policy as a more secure measure of accessing their records. Anthony Faust, an electrical engineering student, feels good about the switch.
“It sounds like an upgrade to what they have right now,” he said. “It’s good to have extra security.” The only concern he has is the fact that with the introduction of the TUid, he now will have to remember one more number.
Natalya Bucuy can be reached at email@example.com.