TPS data breach presents possible risks and dangers for students

Local experts explain that personal data posted online could expose students and faculty to identity theft.
Published: Oct. 17, 2020 at 12:56 AM EDT
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TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - As Dick Eppstein with the Northwest Ohio and Southeast Michigan Better Business Bureau explains, Toledo Public Schools students and staff are in possible danger following the leak of individual names and social security numbers.

That information was posted online, exposing sensitive personal information for hundreds of people in the district. Eppstein says hackers can use the leaked TPS information for their own financial gain.

“They can apply for credit cards, they can take out loans,” said Eppstein. “They can do all kinds of things with that information and the students don’t know.”

Eppstein states the information from students, in particular, is priceless to hackers, and the biggest concern of the breach is the risk of thieves using the personal data of children to take on their identity. Since minors don’t have existing lines of credit, Eppstein says criminals could use the identities of students for years before they become aware.

“When you get older and you apply to buy a car or you go to apply to an apartment or whatever it is, your credit has already been ruined because the social security number was attached to somebody else,” said Eppstein."

Jeff Boersma President and CEO of Toledo cybersecurity company Modern Data believes the responsibility of managing the leaked information ultimately falls back on TPS.

“I would be looking to the school district for how they want to handle this, for having the breach and having social security numbers and names tied together in a database that was hacked,” said Boersma.

Boersma explains those exposed to the hack may be at risk for years to come. To limit the possibility of financial and identity theft, Boersma recommends that the district take action to provide support to students and staff before it’s too late.

“I think offering credit monitoring services and a Life Lock type of identity theft service for the students that were impacted by this,” says Boersma. “I think that’s step one and I think that’s something they should largely consider.”

Both Boersma and Eppstein told 13abc that they have never witnessed a cyberattack of this magnitude before. Boersma and Eppstein recommend the TPS families exposed to this attack frequently check their financial statements and install two-step security log-ins for all online accounts.

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