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Northwestern Employees Report Tax Filing Problems

Identity theft occurs; investigation shows no breach of University systems

A number of Northwestern University faculty and staff members have reported problems filing their 2015 federal income tax returns or other issues with their returns, indicating that they may have been victims of identity theft, University officials said.

As a result, Northwestern University Information Technology’s Office of Information and Systems Security and Compliance, aided by University Police, Human Resources, General Counsel and others, are investigating these reports, attempting to identify the potential sources of compromise. The ongoing investigation has shown no evidence of any breach of a Northwestern system. 

Additionally, the University has contacted vendors that provide payroll or other services. None of them has found a breach of their systems. If they did find such a breach, they would be required by their contracts and by state law to notify the University. 

To date, a total of 53 employees have reported problems. Overall, the total number of compromised identities appears to be in line with the numbers reported by peer institutions over the past number of years.

In addition to reporting to the IRS and local police departments, faculty and staff should report other instances of suspected identity theft relating to tax filing to NUIT Security and Compliance by calling Dave Kovarik at 847-467-5930 or emailing david-kovarik@northwestern.edu.

Instances of similar problems nationally were reported last tax filing season and in previous years, as well as this year. Other sources of information and assistance available on prevention, detection and victim assistance include: 

Internal Revenue Service
https://www.irs.gov/Individuals/Identity-Protection

IRS Identity Theft Hotline: 800-908-4490 

Federal Trade Commission – Report identity theft and get a recovery plan
https://www.identitytheft.gov/

State of Illinois
http://www.illinoisattorneygeneral.gov/consumers/hotline.html

University Police
http://www.northwestern.edu/up/crime/awareness/identity-theft.html 

Some recent articles on the issue include:

Sign Up at irs.gov Before Crooks Do It For You - http://krebsonsecurity.com/2015/03/sign-up-at-irs-gov-before-crooks-do-it-for-you/

Why you should also register your Social Security account right away:

Crooks Hijack Retirement Funds Via SSA Portal:
http://krebsonsecurity.com/2013/09/crooks-hijack-retirement-funds-via-ssa-portal/ 

IRS: 330K Taxpayers Hit by ‘Get Transcript’ Scam:
http://krebsonsecurity.com/2015/08/irs-330k-taxpayers-hit-by-get-transcript-scam/

Phishing emails
http://www.cnbc.com/2016/03/09/beware-this-phishing-e-mail-tax-scam-from-the-boss.html

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