In an update sent out to the campus community, Eastern Michigan University said they have reason to believe the former student employees used the obtained personal information to file fraudulent tax returns in the March 9 security breach.
The university said the former students may have taken personal information such as names, date of births, and social security numbers from the records of other students that were housed in the offices where they worked.
“While the investigation remains ongoing, the university has 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,” Walter Kraft, vice president for communications, said in a release. “If the legitimate tax filer submits his/her return after his/her social security number has been used fraudulently, the tax return will be rejected by the IRS because another filer has already used the social security number.”
The student employees no longer work for or attend the university.
The initial investigation indicated the records of approximately 58 individuals were improperly taken.
Since then, an additional six individuals may have also had their information taken and used. This number includes parents of students who contacted the university after being notified by the IRS that their 2010 tax returns were rejected because their social security numbers were used on another filing.
EMU has provided the information from those individuals to authorities and they are now part of the ongoing criminal investigation.
The university has offered to assist all individuals who may have been affected by the breach while the criminal investigation continues.
The university said it may be possible that not every affected individual has been identified to date. Students who believe their information may have been compromised should contact EMU at 734-487-1357.