A nationwide security breach has impacted a number of employees at Oklahoma colleges and universities, including Seminole State College, with personal information of as many as 13 SSC employees compromised.
Dr. James Utterback, president of SSC, said this breach is a nationwide problem.
“The headlines in the last few weeks have focused on security breaches of Turbo Tax and Anthem. Anthem is the parent company of Blue Cross, Blue Shield,” he said. “Both of these groups of course deny this breach had anything to do with their companies.”
He pointed out, though, “There are very few places, however, where someone can get information on entire families including Social Security numbers and dates of birth. That makes this different than other well-known national breaches like Chase, Target and Home Depot.
“They can’t get that kind of information from those sources. We’re trying to do everything we can to work with our employees to help them deal with this security breach,” he added.
Seminole State College Human Resources Director Courtney Jones said 13 current and former college employees have notified her that their personal information has been compromised.
Cindy Guinn is one of the SSC employees affected. She serves as the administrative assistant to the executive vice president for institutional advancement.
“Someone other than myself filed state and federal tax returns in my name using my personal information and possibly that of my husband. I just found out this week. I called the IRS and the Oklahoma Tax Commission,” she explained.
Now she has to fill out an identity theft form, call the Federal Trade Commission, the Social Security Administration, and the Oklahoma State Attorney General’s office and file a police report. She also has to call a list of other people and organizations in order to try to protect
her identity, she said.
Dr. Utterback said this has hit not only SSC, but other Higher Education institutions across Oklahoma.
Guinn said she found out about the scope of the situation first by talking to another employee of the college.
“I received a letter from the Oklahoma Tax Commission asking for copies of my W2s and my 1099s and that was a red flag,” she noted.
“My husband and I haven’t even filed our tax returns yet.”
Guinn, to her knowledge, said she and her husband haven’t lost any money yet.
Jamie Mills and her husband, Dr. Tom Mills, are two other employees whose personal information has been compromised.
Jamie is director of recruitment and advisement at SSC. Dr. Mills is vice president for academic affairs.
“We received a letter from the Oklahoma Tax Commission and they wanted more information on our return. But we had not even filed our tax return,” Jamie Mills said. “Our personal information has been compromised. To my knowledge, we haven’t lost any money.”
Jamie Mills said the OTC didn’t send the scammers any money.
“If the IRS did, it would be government money,” she continued.
She explained those behind this fraudulent scheme are using a “green dot” VISA card.
“We threw ours away when we received it, because we didn’t ask for it,” she said.
She noted she’s checked their banking and savings accounts and they haven’t been touched.
“This could be much worse for sure,” she said, adding the OTC has backed out the fraudulent return.
“But when we do file our state tax return, we must file it in paper form, not an e-file.”
She and her husband are going through the steps necessary to restore their personal identity with the OTC, IRS and other entities, she said.
SSC HR Director Jones said that the College is actively working to help the employees who have been affected.
“We got everyone together in a group to collectively share information and explain that we want to help in any way that we can,” Jones said.
She also commented that the Oklahoma Tax Commission has been very responsive and helpful to employees.
People who feel that they been a victim of such identity theft may contact the OTC Fraud Hotline at 405-522-0595.