April 21, 2016
I am writing to make you aware of a serious issue affecting members of the Cal Lutheran community that we have taken immediate action to address.
Over the last few weeks, nine faculty and staff have informed ITS and Human Resources that tax returns were fraudulently filed on their behalf.
This is a nationwide problem. According to the IRS, there has been a 400% increase in tax scams this year compared to last, involving up to six million filings. Fraudulent tax filers collect data from various sources to file a simple tax form, hoping to collect on a refund before the victim does. Several high profile data breaches around the country, including at the IRS, have contributed to this rise.
We are addressing this issue and asking for your help as well. Since the source of data used for the fraudulent filings is unknown, ITS has launched an investigation to see if there are any links to our systems. We have monitored for Phishing emails, unusual logins, password changes and other suspicious access of Cal Lutheran resources. As of this writing, we do not have any evidence of unusual activity on our servers and there is no evidence that any of Cal Lutheran’s systems have been compromised. It is worth noting that the rate of reported fraudulent tax filings is below the national average.
In addition to our internal investigation, we are also contracting with an external IT security firm to assess the situation. As we move forward with this process, please notify me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org if you recently received notification from the IRS that someone has fraudulently filed a tax return using your information. As a reminder, ITS staff will never ask you for your password. You should be wary of any site other than Cal Lutheran sites requesting your login information.
What you should do now:
- If you successfully submitted your 2015 taxes, received a refund or if the IRS cashed your check there is nothing for you to do at this point.
- If you received a notice from the IRS, follow their instructions. Additionally, you may want to request a copy of the fraudulent filing from the IRS https://www.irs.gov/Individuals/Instructions-for-Requesting-Copy-of-Fraudulent-Returns.
- Additionally, if you want to verify your credit has not been tampered with, you may obtain a free annual credit report from the three major credit agencies at https://www.annualcreditreport.com.
We are committed to seeing these investigations through and strive to ensure the security of Cal Lutheran staff and student private information. We will keep you posted on our findings.