Data leak affects more than 1,000 employees at Kansas college

HUTCHINSON, Kansas (KSN) – It’s tax season, which means people are rushing to fill out their returns on time.

But, some employees at a Kansas community college have to take extra steps this year after a massive data breach that left over one-thousand employees vulnerable to fraud.

Tonight we know the W2 information of 1,357 employees at Hutchinson Community College was leaked to an unauthorized email address.

KSN spoke with one employee who says when he went to file his taxes, he was surprised to find it had already been done.

“I think we live in a world anymore that you know, people have access to more information than we ever, than we even know about,” said Travis Booe, the director for the Hutchinson Community College Physical Therapist Assistant program.

Unfortunately, that’s a reality for Booe.

It took him a lot of work but he says he’s fine now.

He filled out the right forms with IRS submitted a paper tax return, instead of online, filed a police report, and alerted the credit bureaus.

“You know, it’s an unfortunate incident. We certainly wish it hadn’t happened but at the end of the day, the college has taken a lot of steps to make sure that we protect their identity,” said Carter File, Hutchinson Community College president.

The college found out about the breach on March 24.

Officials say the leak happened through an unauthorized email but, they’re still looking into the details of it.

“It took 4 or 5 days to get everything together and put everything in place and send it out and in that intervening time some people’s income tax accounts got compromised,” File said.

“They’ve been very proactive as far as figuring out what they can do to make this situation, an unpleasant situation, a little bit better for everyone involved,” Booe said.

College officials say they’re working with the investigation and risk consulting firm, Kroll.

Right now, they’re offering employees notification of breach, identity theft monitoring and identity theft restoration services.

“At this point in time every employee at the college is probably safer than they ever have been because of the ability to sign up for this I.D. monitoring service,” Booe said.

Although college officials couldn’t talk about any possible disciplinary action, they assured KSN the incident was a mistake in human error.

So, what should you do if you suspect someone has stolen your identity or you suspect tax fraud?

First, immediately file a police report.

You will also need to file a report with the IRS reporting the fraudulent return.

Make sure you contact one of the major credit bureaus to place a fraud alert on your credit records and be sure to file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission.

MORE | Taxpayer guide to identity theft.

MORE | Consumer information on identity theft.

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