650 Identity Theft Prevention
Approved by President
Effective Date: June 5, 2017
Responsible Division: Business and Finance
Responsible Office: Compliance and Enterprise Risk Management
Responsible Officer: Assistant Vice President for Compliance and Enterprise Risk Management
This policy outlines efforts to detect, prevent, and mitigate identity theft, and to help protect Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU or University), their faculty, staff, students, and other applicable constituents from damages related to the loss, or misuse of, identifying information due to identity theft.
A. Covered account. Includes:
1. Any account that involves, or is designated to permit, multiple payments or transactions; or
2. Any other account maintained by the University for which there is a reasonably foreseeable risk of identity theft to students, faculty, staff, or other applicable constituents, or for which there is a reasonably foreseeable risk to the safety or soundness of the University from identity theft, including financial, operational, compliance, reputation, or litigation risks.
B. Identifying information. Any name or number that may be used alone, or in conjunction, with any other information, to identify a specific person, including, but not limited to: name, address, telephone number, social security number, date of birth, government issued driver’s license or identification number, alien registration number, government passport number, employer or taxpayer identification number, student identification number, computer Internet Protocol address or routing code, credit card number, or other credit card information.
C. Identity theft. Fraud committed, or attempted, using the identifying information of another person without authority.
D. Red Flag. A pattern, practice, or specific activity that indicates the possible existence of identity theft.
A. The risk to MTSU, its faculty, staff, students, and other applicable constituents from data loss and identity theft is of significant concern. The University should make reasonable efforts to detect, prevent, and mitigate identity theft.
B. Under this policy, the program will:
1. Identify patterns, practices, or specific activities (red flags) that could indicate the existence of identity theft with regard to new or existing covered accounts (see Definitions);
2. Detect red flags that are incorporated in the program;
3. Respond appropriately to any red flags that are detected, under this program, to prevent and mitigate identity theft;
4. Ensure periodic updating of the program, including reviewing the accounts that are covered and the identified red flags that are part of this program; and,
5. Promote compliance with state and federal laws and regulations regarding identity theft protection.
C. The program shall, as appropriate, incorporate existing University policies and guidelines, such as anti-fraud programs and information security programs, that establish controls for reasonably foreseeable risks.
IV. Identification of Red Flags
A. The following examples of red flags are potential indicators of fraud or identity theft. The risk factors for identifying relevant red flags include the types of covered accounts offered or maintained; the methods provided to open or access covered accounts; and previous experience with identity theft. Any time a red flag, or a situation closely resembling a red flag, is apparent, it should be investigated for verification.
B. Alerts, notifications, or warnings from a credit or consumer reporting agency. Examples of these red flags include the following:
1. report of fraud or active duty alert in a credit or consumer report;
2. notice of credit freeze from a credit or consumer reporting agency, in response to a request for a credit or consumer report;
3. notice of address discrepancy, in response to a credit or consumer report request; and,
4. credit or consumer report indicates a pattern of activity inconsistent with the history and usual pattern of activity of an applicant such as:
a. recent and significant increase in the volume of inquiries;
b. unusual number of recently established credit relationships;
c. material change in the use of credit, especially with respect to recently established credit relationships; or,
d. account that was closed for cause, or identified for abuse of account privileges, by a financial institution or creditor.
C. Suspicious documents. Examples of these red flags include the following:
1. Documents provided for identification that appears to have been altered, forged, or are inauthentic.
2. The photograph or physical description on the identification document is not consistent with the appearance of the individual presenting the identification.
3. Other information on the identification is not consistent with information provided by the person opening a new covered account or individual presenting the identification.
4. Other information on the identification is not consistent with readily accessible information that is on file with the University, such as a signature card or a recent check.
5. An application appears to have been altered, forged, or gives the appearance of having been destroyed and reassembled.
D. Suspicious personal identifying information. Examples of these red flags include the following:
1. Personal identifying information provided is inconsistent when compared against other sources of information used by the University. For example:
a. The address does not match any address in the consumer report; or,
b. The Social Security number (SSN) has not been issued or is listed on the Social Security Administration's Death Master File.
2. Personal identifying information provided by the individual is not consistent with other personal identifying information provided by that individual. For example: There is a lack of correlation between the SSN range and date of birth.
3. Personal identifying information provided is associated with known fraudulent activity. For example:
a. The address on an application is the same as the address provided on a fraudulent application; or,
b. The phone number on an application is the same as the number provided on a fraudulent application.
4. Personal identifying information provided is of a type commonly associated with fraudulent activity. For example:
a. The address on an application is fictitious, a mail drop, or a prison; or
b. The phone number is invalid or is associated with a pager or answering service.
5. The SSN provided is the same as that submitted by another person opening an account.
6. The address or telephone number provided is the same as, or similar to, the address or telephone number submitted by another person.
7. The individual opening the covered account fails to provide all required personal identifying information on an application or in response to notification that the application is incomplete.
8. Personal identifying information provided is not consistent with personal identifying information that is on file with the University.
9. When using security questions (mother's maiden name, pet's name, etc.), the person opening that covered account cannot provide authenticating information beyond that which generally would be available from a wallet or consumer report.
E. Unusual use of, or suspicious activity related to, the covered account. Examples of these red flags include the following:
1. Shortly following the notice of a change of address for a covered account, the University receives a request for a new, additional, or replacement card, or for the addition of authorized users on the account.
2. A covered account is used in a manner that is not consistent with established patterns of activity on the account. There is, for example:
a. Nonpayment when there is no history of late or missed payments;
b. A material change in purchasing or usage patterns.
3. A covered account that has been inactive for a reasonably lengthy period of time is used (taking into consideration the type of account, the expected pattern of usage and other relevant factors).
4. Mail sent to the individual is returned repeatedly as undeliverable although transactions continue to be conducted in connection with the individual's covered account.
5. The University is notified that the individual is not receiving paper account statements.
6. The University is notified of unauthorized charges or transactions in connection with an individual's covered account.
7. The University receives notice from customers, victims of identity theft, law enforcement authorities, or other persons regarding possible identity theft in connection with covered accounts held by the University.
8. The University is notified by an employee, student, victim of identity theft, law enforcement authority, or any other person that it has opened a fraudulent account for a person engaged in identity theft.
9. A breach in the University’s computer security system.
V. Detecting Red Flags
A. Student enrollment. In order to detect red flags associated with the enrollment of a student, the University will take the following steps to obtain, and verify, the identity of the individual opening the account:
1. Require certain identifying information such as name, date of birth, academic records, home address, or other identification; and,
2. Verify the student’s identity at the time of issuance of the student identification card through review of driver’s license or other government-issued photo identification.
B. Existing accounts. In order to detect red flags associated with an existing account, the University will take the following steps to monitor transactions on an account:
1. Verify the identification of students, if they request Information;
2. Verify the validity of requests to change billing addresses, by mail or email, and provide the student a reasonable means of promptly reporting incorrect billing address changes; and,
3. Verify changes in banking information given for billing and payment purposes.
C. Consumer/Credit Report Requests. In order to detect red flags for an employment or volunteer position for which a credit or background report is sought, the University will take the following steps to assist in identifying address discrepancies:
1. Require written verification from any applicant that the address provided by the applicant is accurate at the time the request for the credit report is made to the consumer reporting agency; and
2. In the event that notice of an address discrepancy is received, verify that the credit report pertains to the applicant for whom the requested report was made and report to the consumer reporting agency an address for the applicant that the University has reasonably confirmed is accurate.
VI. Responding to Red Flags
A. Once a red flag, or potential red flag, is detected, the University must act quickly with consideration of the risk posed by the red flag.
B. The University should quickly gather all related documentation, write a description of the situation, and present this information to the program administrator for determination.
C. The Program Administrator will complete additional authentication to determine whether the attempted transaction was fraudulent or authentic.
D. The University may take the following steps, as is deemed appropriate:
1. Continue to monitor the covered account for evidence of identity theft;
2. Contact the student or applicant for which a credit report was run;
3. Change any passwords, or other security devices, that permit access to covered accounts;
4. Close and reopen the account;
5. Determine not to open a new covered account;
6. Provide the student with a new student identification number;
7. Notify law enforcement;
8. Determine that no response is warranted under the particular circumstances;
9. Cancel the transaction.
VII. Protecting Personal Information
A. In order to prevent the likelihood of identity theft occurring, with respect to covered accounts, the University may take the following steps, in accordancd with its internal operating procedures:
1. Lock file cabinets, desk drawers, overhead cabinets, and any other storage space containing documents with covered account information when not in use.
2. Lock storage rooms containing documents with covered account information and record retention areas at the end of each workday or when unsupervised.
3. Clear desks, workstations, work areas, printers, fax machines, and common shared work areas of all documents containing covered account information when not in use.
4. Documents or computer files containing covered account information will be destroyed in a secure manner. University records may only be destroyed in accordance with Policy 129 Records Management and Disposal of Records.
5. Ensure that office computers, with access to covered account information, are password protected.
6. Ensure that computer virus protection is up to date.
7. Avoid the use of SSNs.
8. Utilize encryption devices when transmitting covered account information.
B. University personnel are encouraged to use common sense judgment in securing covered account information to the proper extent.
C. Furthermore, this section should be read in conjunction with the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), the Tennessee Public Records Act, and other applicable laws and policies.
D. If an employee is uncertain of the sensitivity of a particular piece of information, he/she should contact his/her supervisor. The Office of the University Counsel may be contacted for advice.
VIII. Program Administration
A. Oversight and Appointment of the University’s Program Administrator
1. This policy is the responsibility of the Board of Trustees (Board). Approval of the initial plan must be appropriately documented and maintained.
2. The University will tailor this program by taking into consideration its size, complexity, and nature of its operation. Consideration will be given to the types of accounts it offers and maintains, the methods it provides to open those accounts, the methods it provides to access its accounts, and its previous experience with identity theft.
3. Operational responsibility of the program at the University is delegated to a program administrator appointed by the President and shall include, but not be limited to;
a. The oversight, development, implementation, and administration of the program;
b. Approval and implementation of needed changes to the program; and,
c. Staff training.
4. The program administrator is also responsible for ensuring that appropriate steps are taken for preventing and mitigating identity theft, for reviewing any staff reports regarding the detection of red flags, and for determining which steps should be taken in particular circumstances when red flags are suspected or detected.
5. A report to the University’s President should be made annually concerning compliance with, and effectiveness of, the program, and the responsibility for such report may be placed with the program administrator. This report should address:
a. Service provider arrangements;
b. The effectiveness of the program in addressing the risk of identity theft;
c. Significant incidents of identity theft and the University’s response; and,
d. Any recommendations for material changes to the program.
B. Staff training. Staff training shall be conducted for all employees for whom it is reasonably foreseeable, as determined by the program administrator, that may come into contact with covered accounts or identifying information.
C. Periodic Updates to the Program.
1. At periodic intervals established in the program, or as required, the program will be re-evaluated to determine whether all aspects of the program are up to date and applicable.
2. Consideration will be given to the University’s:
a. Experiences with identity theft situations;
b. Changes in identity theft methods, detection methods, or prevention methods; and,
c. Changes in the University’s business arrangements with other entities.
3. Periodic reviews will include an assessment of which accounts are covered by the program. As part of the review, red flags may be revised, replaced, or eliminated. Defining new red flags may also be appropriate.
4. Actions to take in the event that fraudulent activity is suspected or discovered may also require revision to the program.
D. Overview of service provider arrangements
1. It is the responsibility of the University to ensure that the activities of all service providers are conducted in accordance with reasonable policies and procedures designated to detect, prevent, and mitigate the risk of identity theft.
2. In the event the University engages a service provider to perform an activity in connection with one or more covered accounts, the University will take the following steps to ensure the service provider performs its activity in accordance with reasonable policies and procedures designed to detect, prevent, and mitigate the risk of identity theft:
a Require, by contract, that service providers have such policies and procedures in place; or,
b. Require, by contract, that service providers review the University’s program and report any red flags to the program administrator.
3. A service provider that maintains its own identity theft prevention program, consistent with the guidance of the red flag rules and validated by appropriate due diligence, may be considered to be meeting these requirements.
Last Reviewed: April 2022.
References: Policy 129 Records Management and Disposal of Records.