UNI Warning Employees Over Possible Data Breach, Tax Filing Fraud

CEDAR FALLS, Iowa - Darnell Cole-Taylor works in the Education building on the UNI campus. Yet, on Monday, she received a letter from the IRS -- rarely a welcome correspondence.

"I received a letter from the IRS indicating that I was to receive a refund after they deducted taxes that we owed from the original refund," said Cole-Taylor, a university employee for more than 20 years.

Cole-Taylor noted that her husband always files taxes jointly and, to her knowledge, they had not filed for 2013.

"(The IRS) actually told me the (refund) had been sent out on the 19th to whoever had filed it," said Cole-Taylor. "Whoever got the money, they got the money and it went into a checking account."

University spokesperson Scott Ketelsen said on Thursday that the school realized more and more employees were getting an "error code" when filing federal taxes.

This can occur when a user inputs their information to file but the IRS already has a record of that user filing.

"We had a couple of examples of names, Social Security numbers and addresses matching up and those were of utmost concern," said Ketelsen.

IRS information on "Common Error/Reject Codes":
http://www.irs.gov/uac/Common-Error-Reject-Codes-(ERCs)-for-Individual-Tax-Returns-&-Suggested-Solutions

Throughout the week, the university has put out updated information on a webpage (www.uni.edu/web/tax-advisory-information) to address new findings in these cases. On Wednesday, Vice President for Student Affairs Terry Hogan wrote that "there does not appear to be a direct link between the reported errors and the university and that the university is not aware of similar issues with students."

UNI also announced that the school is paying the cost of one-year memberships to ProtectMyID Alert, an Experian product that claims to detect any misuse of personal, financial information.

"Budgets are tight but the cost was never the issue," said Ketelsen. "We've got to do this."

Ketelsen said for any university employees who do file federal taxes but the IRS website rejects the filing or gives an error code to contact police.

"We're referring them to the UNI Police Department and filling out a form and filing a complaint," said Ketelsen. "Ultimately, it's going to the IRS and that's as high as it's going to go. We've got two agents in Des Moines and they're actively involved in searching this out."
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