The IRS has informed about 80 WKU employees that their 2014 tax returns have been filed fraudulently. The recent surge of reports come a little more than a month after Anthem, the nation’s second-largest health insurance provider, announced that it had suffered a data breach, leaving the personal information of potentially 80 million people at risk, including 4,600 current and former WKU employees.
Anthem has functioned as the third party administrator for WKU’s self-insured Employee Health Plan since the beginning of 2003.
The number of employees who have reported a fraudulently filed tax return has jumped by about 30 people since the beginning of March.
Mac McKerral, associate professor of journalism, is one of the 80 WKU employees who have had a tax return filed fraudulently.
McKerral said he received a letter from the IRS on Feb. 23 stating that an effort to direct deposit a tax return had failed. McKerral immediately knew something was wrong.
“I knew something was amiss because my tax return hadn’t been filed yet,” he said. “And besides the fact, I never get refunds.”
McKerral later received another letter from the IRS noting that the agency was investigating a fraudulently filed return.
According to an email sent Monday to faculty and staff from President Gary Ransdell, there has been no evidence of any problems within WKU’s own IT systems, but WKU encourages employees who have had their tax returns filed fraudulently to inform the university so that it may inform Anthem.
Tony Glisson, Human Resources director, told the Herald earlier this month that there hasn’t been any common link between the employees that have reported fraudulently filed tax returns.
McKerral said he is not going to file any tax returns until the IRS confirms that the return already filed was not his. He will look into getting an extension beyond the April 15 deadline.
Ransdell said it hasn’t been confirmed if all fraudulently filed tax returns are connected to the breach, but said that it wouldn’t be out of the question.
“Conventional wisdom would indicate that that’s the likely correlation,” he said.
According to the Financial Times, in 2013 the US government warned Anthem about computer security vulnerabilities. McKerral said it was “a little frustrating” that the warnings were not heeded.
McKerral has identity theft protection, but is still keeping on his personal information.
“I’m keeping an eye on my bank account everyday,” he said. “I’m keeping an eye on my credit cards everyday. There’s really not much more than… you can do.”
With more and more information being stored digitally, the threat of personal information being compromised is always present, McKerral said.
“We live in a world where information…really is not safe,” he said. “That’s just the way it is.”