Four months later, Archdiocese of Portland breach still unclear

Remember the tax refund fraud that affected a number of people employed by or volunteers with the Archdiocese of Portland? The breach was disclosed in March, but as of July 28, the Archdiocese still doesn’t know how the breach occurred and whether it involved their system or an external system.

From a letter signed by the Archbishop of Portland and sent to affected Vermont residents:

What happened?

Starting in mid-March 2014, we learned that a number of individuals affiliated with our Archdiocese (mostly employees and volunteers at parishes and schools) had been victimized in a tax fraud scheme. Based on the information provided by affected individuals, it appears that criminals obtained their social security numbers and filed false tax returns using their identities in an effort to obtain fraudulent refunds.

We have been hard at work trying to determine the cause of this breach and how it occurred. Unfortunately, at this time we still do not know:

  • who compromised the personal information, and how it was done;
  • whether any personal information, other than names and Social Security numbers, was
  • compromised;
  • whether the breach occurred within our systems or the systems of another; and
  • the identities of individuals whose personal information was compromised by the breach (unless they have notified us directly).

Since learning of the breach, the Archdiocese reports that they have

worked with law enforcement, including the IRS and FBI, and hired a national forensic firm all in an effort to determine the source of this breach. We have worked with third parties with whom we contract to determine if the breach took place in their systems. We have also gathered information from victims to assist with the investigation, and communicated by telephone, through our website, and otherwise to help them understand what was happening and what steps they could take to protect themselves. Finally, we are reviewing our systems, policies, and procedures for handling personal information, to enhance the overall security of personal information we receive.

Those affected have been offered two years of credit monitoring services through My TransUnion Monitoring’s program, which monitors the big three credit reports.

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