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The Resource Center Identity Theft & Protection The Resource Center | article

80 Ball State University Employees Victims of Identity Theft

Earlier this month Ball State University announced that 80 of its employees were victims of identity theft and tax return fraud.

Earlier this month Ball State University announced that 80 of its employees were victims of identity theft and tax return fraud.

Earlier this month Ball State University announced that 80 of its employees had become victims of identity theft and tax return fraud.

According to IndyStar, city and county police records showed that the victims included an associate vice president, a dean, assistant deans, assistant department chairs, directors and other senior officials in information technology, human resources, the controller’s office, student center, health center, athletics department, career center, university foundation, library, human performance lab and counseling.

Numerous faculty members have also filed police reports, but other employees, particularly those in clerical and maintenance positions, have not done the same. The reason for this, according to Delaware County police Lt. Greg Ellison, is that they do not have the funds to pursue criminal charges.

In total 80 employees have filed crime reports locally, but the police are still not sure how much money has been stolen. One economics professor, who received a tax refund of $8,395.10 on a pre-paid T-Mobile Visa card, used the card only to discover that a mere eight dollars remained on it. He was told by T-Mobile that charges had been made to the card at Walmarts in several California cities. Similarly, an associate dean received a refund in the mail of about $8,400 on a pre-paid Green Dot card, but had only $3 left when he went to check the balance.

Other employees received notice of a refund despite not having filed returns or not being eligible for returns.

In many cases the children of the employees were targeted as well. One family — a couple and their three children — all had their identities stolen.

According to Scott Sherwood, an officer in the records division at the Muncie Police Department, there are probably more than 80 victims.

In a separate incident, two local physicians and a local senior home health specialist, Gary Brossart, also filed police reports regarding stolen Social Security numbers and identity theft from a tax return fraud. Brossart believes that the crimes lead back to Anthem, the health care company that was the target of a cyber attack weeks ago. Like Ball State University employees, Brossart is a Anthem subscriber.

Anthem, however, along with BSU officials and cyber security experts, stated that there was no evidence supporting Brossart’s theory and linking Anthem to these identity thefts.

Dan Byrnes, director of BSU sports facilities and a victim himself said, “[…] Your Social Security number is out there forever, so the journey of protecting our family’s identity looks like it will be a lifelong pursuit. That’s scary. It is frustrating to have one incident that is not your fault cause so much stress and inconvenience, particularly when you think you have done all the right things in protecting your identity and financial health.”

Byrnes is right. There is no sure-fire way to protect your identity. Constant vigilance is necessary at all times. In an effort to stay protected, people should use credit monitoring services to track credit files for certain activity which may indicate fraud, use safe online browsing practices and file taxes early in the year.