Southern California Students Lose Information to Identity Theft

The daily Trojan, which is the Student Newspaper for the University of Southern California, today is reporting that the Los Angeles Police Department is investigating 16 USC Identity Theft crimes.
What’s interesting is that between August 4th and September 5th, someone used student, faculty, and staff account, to make unauthorized ATM Withdrawls, purchase things fraudulently on the Internet, and open unauthorized credit card accounts. Peter Tom, the vice president of member services for the USC Credit Union, says that he didn’t know about the LAPD investigation, and doesn’t really know why this could be taking place.

I’d like to offer a possible reason for why it could be taking place.
On the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse Web site, you can see a chronology of data breaches since the original choice point data breach incident. Looking at that page, it is easy to see that USC has had two different data breaches, resulting in over 300,000 pieces of collective compromised data from different points at the University of Southern California.
How could this have possibly resulted in false accounts being created in the names of USC Students?
Well, as we’ve covered in previous Identity Theft Secrets videos, there is a large reseller network, at work, to sell your information. And while someone may have stolen the information on a laptop, the information, if re-sold, can be sold, and re-sold, and re-sold over again, and used by criminals over, and over, and over again.
There are multiple web sites on the internet which basically serve as forums for criminals to sell and re-sell information, once it’s stolen.
They can also use IRC (or Internet Relay Chat) to communicate with one another. And many frequently do.
So, while it is possible that the reason student information was mis-used was because students were just returning to school and that gave more opportunities for the information to be stolen, it is also possible, and even likely, that the students themselves had nothing to do with their information being mis-used. It is even likely that their information has now been made available on the larger underground trading market where people’s information is being bought and sold as a commodity.