Cornell Laptop Theft Could Be Identity Fraud Bonanza

As many as 45,000 Cornellians could be at risk for identity theft.

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The theft of a Cornell University-owned laptop earlier this month has left 45,000 members of the university's community at risk of identity and credit card fraud, the Cornell Daily Sun reports.

Files on the stolen laptop listed tens of thousands of names and corresponding Social Security numbers for Cornell students, faculty, and staff. Prior to the theft, a Cornell technical staff employee left the laptop in a physically unsecured environment.

New York State Police are investigating the crime, but State Police Investigator Aaron Lewis told the Sun Wednesday that the thief might not know the laptop contained anything out of the ordinary. "There is no indication that this is a sophisticated type of operation to steal people's identities," Lewis said. "It appears to be more of a crime of opportunity."

However, Lewis also said the thief might now know the stolen laptop contains sensitive information since the theft has been widely reported by the news media. The university plans to provide free credit reporting, credit monitoring, and identity theft restoration services for those affected by the security breach.