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Posted on Thu, Mar 31, 2011 : 9:23 a.m.

Identity thieves may have used EMU students' Social Security numbers to file fraudulent tax returns

By Cindy Heflin

The names and Social Security numbers of six Eastern Michigan University students or their parents may have been used to file fraudulent tax returns and obtain fraudulent refunds, the university said today.

The university said six people told EMU that the Internal Revenue Service had rejected their 2010 tax returns because their Social Security numbers were used on another filing.

EMU announced earlier this month that two former student-employees had accessed the names, birth dates and Social Security numbers of other students.

Today, the university said the records of 64 people, including the six whose Social Security numbers were used to file the fraudulent returns, were taken. It's not clear if the information of the 58 others was used, the university said.

When asked if the former students had been charged with any crimes, EMU spokesman Geoff Larcom said the investigation by EMU police and federal authorities is continuing. The theft of the data was discovered while the university was investigating another matter, he said.

The university said it has notified students believed to be directly affected by the security breach. But it's possible others will be discovered as the investigation continues. Students should call (734) 487-1357 if they believe their information has been used improperly, the university said.

Previously Walter Kraft, vice president for communications, would not say what jobs the students held.

EMU also said it is evaluating its procedures to determine whether changes or improvements can be made to help prevent similar security breaches.

Larcom said the university continues to employ student workers in areas where they have access to sensitive information. "Student helpers are employed in universities all across the country," he said. "You have to rely on them in certain ways."

He said the university conducts criminal background checks before hiring workers, including students. He would not say in what offices the former students worked.



Tue, Apr 5, 2011 : 1:22 a.m.

SW40 Good to see you understand the real life concept that "stuff happens". Actually I agree with you. But I do find it interesting that people want to shut down local businesses because of the crime that happens around those areas (Dream, 5th Quarter, in fact, many people feel because of bar fights that ALL bars should be shut down) All I'm pointing out is the hypocrisy that is exhibited from one organization to the other. I should have linked my comment from the other most recent EMU incident. I think people may have seen what I was getting at if I did that.


Fri, Apr 1, 2011 : 7:27 p.m.

Tyler, Seriously shut down a university because of an Identity theft. I don't know if people have unrealistic expectations of a college or what but identity theft happens all the time. Would you like the University to stop hiring student employees, that makes sense, I mean what type of school helps students by hiring them to work on campus so that they can help pay their bills and succeed in life. Shame on you EMU for hiring students(thats called sarcasm). And as far as not keeping people safe If anyone can find a metropolitan university with similiar size or enrollment that is crime free i'll transfer there. Bottom line crime happens everywhere, stop blaming the University. EMU is made up of a quality faculty and administration who are dedicated to educating students, but I guess they can't use their super powers to babysit every single person on their campus 24hrs a day 365 days a year. Oh wait no college can, check out the stats from Wayne State, Western Michigan, Toledo, Akron, UofM, Michigan State and guess what there is crime and guess what even the occasional identity theft.


Fri, Apr 1, 2011 : 5:54 p.m.

yet another instance where EMU proves that it is not capable of keeping a safe educational environment. if they are not capable of keeping students safe both physically and from fraudulent abuse than the university should be shut down.


Thu, Mar 31, 2011 : 6:42 p.m.

Oops...I meant to direct my comment to Dcam.


Thu, Mar 31, 2011 : 6:41 p.m.

N/A - I know someone who received this same request when his license was up for renewal last month as well and all he did was show his Social Security card when he went in to renew in their office.


Thu, Mar 31, 2011 : 5:58 p.m.

Just shaking my head, but glad to read, former students. This is a serious crime, sorta like my morgage co. employee selling my personal ID. (Country Wide) The person was fired, but to late.


Thu, Mar 31, 2011 : 4:23 p.m.

Susan Martin. You have done a good job cleaning up the messes from the previous university proesidents. How will you respond to this problem? You recently received an increase in compensation - time to earn it...


Thu, Mar 31, 2011 : 4:15 p.m.

Odd, but my driver license renewal says the secretary of state can't confirm the authenticity of my SSN, and I must renew in person at the local branch - bringing proof of valid number. What valid proof is, I don't know and the state's not saying. Two emails asking what they want - with valid anti-spam codes to SOS's efficient web site have gone unanswered. I offered my birth in Madison, Wisconsin, my Top Secret NSA/NavSecGru crypto clearances and 30 years residency in Michigan as some indication of my legitimacy, but apparently that's not good enough. I'm still waiting, but it looks like it's going to be a long, long process given humans are unable to talk directly and phone numbers are not given - leaving only emails to black holes.


Thu, Mar 31, 2011 : 5:11 p.m.

Wow!!! that would scare me! How very odd. I'd recommend emailing or calling your representative immediately. They can be extremely helpful when it comes to red tape. I hope you get answers pronto!


Thu, Mar 31, 2011 : 3:24 p.m.

As a student worker at EMU I am glad my info has not been used. However, I have to wonder what some people are thinking when they do things like this. It is completely unfair & stupid to think that you can take what others have worked for. You already had a job, if you didn't like it improve yourself and get a better job. What I work for is mine, you need to work for yours. Stealing is weak.


Thu, Mar 31, 2011 : 4:09 p.m.

This is how the Gov't works, until we change that we cant expect others to do the right thing.


Thu, Mar 31, 2011 : 3:47 p.m.

N/A, That's right...and did they not know they'd be caught? Oy!!! And now, the Feds will be prosecuting. Wow, genius, eh?


Thu, Mar 31, 2011 : 2:20 p.m.

I hope that EMU is open about how this happened and where it happened. There are only a few different ERPs(enterprise resource planning systems) used at colleges nationwide. So a lesson learned by EMU could benefit many other schools. In most areas these ERPs mask social security numbers as well as other identifying numbers. I could think of only a couple of possibilities where they could obtain the numbers but obviously EMU administrators know how this happened. I hope they openly share this with other schools so it can be avoided in the future. But this is very serious and what a horrible mistake these students made. They have destroyed any chance for a decent future for themselves unless they end up writing "Federal Prison for Dummies" and get on the NYT best seller list. Thank you for the update on this story, Cindy.