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Home : News : Nation and World
3/18/2014 3:23:00 PM
Archdiocese of Seattle victim of info breach; Archdiocese of Portland's info safe says statement

Afther discovering the Archdiocese of Seattle was dealing with the aftermath of an information security breach where false tax returns were filed in the names of archdiocesan, school and parish employees and volunteers, the Archdiocese of Portland released a statement noting that there had been no indication that they too were vicitimized. 

The Archdiocese of Portland has released a statement on its website about the fraud, reassuring employees and volunteers. 

"The Archdiocese of Portland is aware that the Archdiocese of Seattle has reported that a number of employees and volunteers are victims of federal tax identity fraud.  The Archdiocese of Seattle reports that it does not know how the problem originated, and it is working with the Internal Revenue Service, the FBI, and an outside forensic security firm to analyze the situation.

"The Archdiocese of Portland has significant security on its network systems, and monitors continuously for breeches of security.  There is no indication that personal information of employees or volunteers has been compromised.  We will continue to monitor the situation to ensure personal data is secure.

"If you suspect you may be a victim of tax fraud call the IRS Identity ProtectionSpecialized Unit at 1 800 908-4490, extension 245, and talk with an IRS agent."

In an notice on the Seattle archdiocese website, employees and volunteers are told they could be "victims of a national tax refund fraud."

In a letter to pastors, pastoral leaders and school administrators, Archbishop J. Peter Sartain offered "prayer and empathy for experiencing personal disruption, anxiety and in some cases serious fraud."

The Seattle Times on March 12 quoted archdiocesan spokesman Greg Magnoni as saying personnel in at least three parishes as well the chancery had been victimized.

It was unclear if any fraudulent tax refunds had actually been issued and cashed.

Several Catholic schools adjusted their schedules on Friday to allow staff to deal with the fraud.

The archdiocese has hired the forensic security firm Stroz Friedberg to assist in analyzing the situation.

The archdiocese's online statement urged "all employees and volunteers" to take several steps including:

· Contacting the IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit "to determine if your tax identity has been compromised";
· Asking the IRS to "place a note ... in their records" about the potential identity theft even if no apparent fraud had yet occurred;
· Placing a "90-day fraud alert" with the credit bureau Equifax, which, in turn, "will notify the other credit bureaus";
· Submitting a report to the Federal Trade Commission if identity compromise has been established;
· Filing a local police report as well as calling Agent Leia Bellis in the IRS Criminal Investigations Unit if fraud activity had been confirmed.

The warning and instructions were also posted in Spanish, Vietnamese and Korean. A link to the IRS website's information on identify theft and victim assistance was provided.

Reader Comments

Posted: Thursday, March 20, 2014
Article comment by: B Ratchford

I am still in disbelief that this ID theft was allowed to happen. What are their security precautions? The call-to-protection initiative is a just requirement however, the negligence, sloppy, and thoughtless storing of perswonal information is simply incredible...I appreciate the prayer offer from Bishop Santarin - I learned this saying along the way: "Actions Speak Louder Than Words". Therefore, the Archdiocese call to action ought to be to reimburse all victims (and there are indeed plenty!!!) for credit monitoring fees, and other related damage control. And, come forward and be transparent please!

Posted: Wednesday, March 19, 2014
Article comment by: brian mcdonald

Perhaps the archdiocese could see fit to provide some sort insurance such as "lifelock"or a simular product to its parishioners untill this mess is sorted out. I've heard of this step being taken by hospitals and other institutions to protect its clients.

Posted: Tuesday, March 18, 2014
Article comment by: Tom Culhane

The fraud involves far more than three parishes. Holy Rosary School in West Seattle is more forthcoming with information: After meeting with representatives from the IRS the Holy Rosary website is saying "But remember, the fact is that everyone who has worked for the archdiocese over the last 10-14 years or has had to go through the call to protect program as a volunteer has had their identity stolen". Thats 90,000 people.

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