The headline reads, "Professor charged with stealing students' IDs." At first glance this appears to be a case of misplaced trust. The professor asks his students to sign into his class by signing their name and placing their social security numbers on the sign-in sheet. The professor then uses the information to open up a bunch of department store credit cards. I submit that this incident happened because students don't know what their social security number is supposed to be used for and the federal government has not done enough to discourage the use of the SSN for non-social security matters.
This whole thing raises some questions. Does the organization--the community college in this case--even know what the SSN is supposed to be used for? What is the student to think? How does the student know whether it's safe to provide the information or not? What could the students have been told in advance that would have prevented this situation? Who should have told them; the college, their high school, their parents, the governemt, who? What is the SSN supposed to be used for anyway?