UNI employees fight tax fraud - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

UNI employees fight tax fraud

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University of Northern Iowa employees have a lot questions in the wake of an incident where the personal information of hundreds of individuals was compromised.

They voiced some of those questions at an informational forum hosted by the University on Tuesday.

"What information was gotten?"

"Are [my children's] social security numbers, are their date of births also at risk?"

"What other personal information should I assume they have?"

The forum included experts in cyber security, criminology and tax law.

In February, when the issue was first discovered, about 50 people had reported issues filing their federal income taxes. Now, University officials say 200 employees have come forward, and but not all of those are fraud. Still, that has psychology department secretary Jan Cornelius concerned. She said her social security number was stolen.

"It's just a feeling that that was my number and somebody has it now," she said.

University officials say a crime has occurred, but the question is how. They also cannot name a suspect.

"I've heard a lot of people making guesses about how this actually took place," said Paul Gray, UNI computer science professor. "That's all they are, guesses."

Two parallel investigations by authorities and UNI are underway. Director of University Relations Scott Ketelsen said he's in daily contact with the IRS.

"Just trying to find out what's going on," he said. "Getting to the bottom of it, so we can share that with our employees."

But in the meantime, some people are frustrated, because as members of the panel noted, once your identity is stolen, it's a life-long problem.

"Right now the university is providing one year of this 'protect my ID' service -- is that going to be extended to everyone on campus for the rest of our lives?" one woman asked at the forum. "So what happens going forward?"

Cornelius said it's affecting her already. She had to take time off work to file tax forms.

"And it really was no vacation," she said.

UNI has resources available for those affected here.

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