(update) More EMU Students May Have Had IDs Stolen In Data Breach

CBS Detroit alerts us to an update on the Eastern Michigan University breach reported earlier this month. From EMU’s web site, an updated post today:

March 31, 2011: to EMU Students:
Students: Please Read This Message And Contact Us (734-487-1357) If You Believe You May Have Been a Victim of the Fraud Described Below.

We are learning more about the information breach involving two former student employees that we initially reported on March 9. As reported at that time, EMU’s Department of Public Safety launched an investigation after learning the former student employees may have taken sensitive personal information (name, date of birth, and Social Security Number) from the records of other students that were housed in the offices where they worked.

The student employees in question no longer work for or attend the university.

While the investigation remains ongoing, to date we have learned the former students may have been involved in activity that involved using the social security numbers taken from EMU student records for the purpose of filing fraudulent tax returns in order to obtain a tax refund to which they were not entitled. If the legitimate tax filer submits his/her return after his/her SSN has been used fraudulently, the tax return will be rejected by the IRS because another filer has already used the SSN.

The initial investigation indicated that the records of approximately 58 individuals were improperly taken, although we do not know if the information of those persons was fraudulently used. We have since identified six additional individuals who may also have had their information taken and used. They included students and parents of students who contacted us after being notified by the IRS that their 2010 tax returns were rejected because their social security numbers were used on another filing. We provided the information from the six individuals to authorities and they are now part of the ongoing criminal investigation.

In the meantime, EMU has offered to assist all individuals who we believe may have been affected by this fraudulent activity, while the EMU Department of Public Safety and federal authorities continue their investigation.

In addition, EMU continues to evaluate its processes to determine what, if any, changes or improvements can be made to help prevent a similar issue from occurring in the future.

As we indicated in the initial notification, only students, not faculty or staff, are affected. EMU has already sent individual notifications to the students who we believe may be directly affected by this incident. At this point, if you do not receive a notification, it is because we do not have evidence that your information was used improperly. As EMU’s investigation remains ongoing, it is possible that not every affected person has been identified to date, so it is important that you contact EMU at (734) 487-1357 if you believe your information has been used improperly.

Even if there is no reason to believe that your personal information has been accessed, out of an abundance of caution, we suggest that you take the following steps to protect yourself and your credit.

What You Can Do

Checking your credit report periodically is one way to help you spot problems and address them quickly. The Fair Credit Reporting Act guarantees you access to your credit report for free once per year. Go to annualcreditreport.com to obtain your free credit report along with other useful information.

If you find suspicious activity on your credit reports or have reason to believe your information is being misused, you should promptly call your local law enforcement agency and file a police report. Keep a copy of the report for your records. Even if you do not find any suspicious activity on your initial credit reports, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recommends that you check your credit reports periodically.

You may also consider placing a fraud alert on your credit files. A fraud alert tells creditors to contact you personally before they open any new accounts. In order to place a fraud alert, contact any of the three major credit bureaus listed below. As soon as one credit bureau confirms your fraud alert, they will notify the others to place fraud alerts.

  • TransUnion, PO Box 6790, Fullerton, CA  92834-6790, 1-800-680-7289
  • Experian, PO Box 9532, Allen, TX  75013, 1-888-397-3742
  • Equifax, PO Box 740241, Atlanta, GA  30374-0241, 1-800-525-6285

We regret that this incident has occurred. Your privacy and protecting your personal data are important to us.

As this investigation continues, we will provide additional updates as warranted.

For further information, included questions and answers about the situation, please return to this website.

The University has also provided an
updated FAQ about the breach on their site.

About the author: Dissent

Comments are closed.