I got a funny letter from a woman in Connecticut. An envelope from GW Financial Assistance arrived at her house. It was addressed to a Patricia M. Cade at this woman’s house. The woman’s name is nothing like mine. Inside the envelope was a confirmation for my Stafford Loan, with my (correct and current) address, name and Social Security number. The woman was kind enough to mail this to me, including a nice note expressing her horror that it had come to her house, because it had my information on it. She suggested I talk to “the most senior employee,” and that I am “entitled to confidentiality.”
I went to the financial aid office, and the information that they have in the Banner system is correct. Who could figure out the reason for such a mix-up? A sheet of paper with confidential financial information, my name and Social Security number was mailed to a complete stranger who lives in a state in which I have never resided. I cannot believe someone in the office mailed that confirmation, which had my correct name and address printed on it in the usual top-left corner, to such a dubious address. The confirmation was dated Aug. 29, was postmarked Sept. 20, arrived in Connecticut Sept. 27 and finally arrived at my dorm Oct. 4.
GW needs to ask all its prospective students if they would prefer to have a computer-generated ID. My choice to have a number generated for me was never disclosed at any time. Going back through all of a student’s records and substituting a random identification number would no doubt be time-and money-consuming. But there is no reason not to give new students a random number. If the system must be changed eventually, it is better to start before someone is a victim of identity theft.