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