April 7, 2017

Hacked: Professors speak out about tax breach

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By Shelby Brown–

U of L now reports 83 employees were victimized by cyber thieves who stole tax information and filed bogus tax returns. Professor Greg Leichty and Communication Department Chair Al Futrell make 85. The professors were not contacted by the university or tax processor Equifax about the hack.

Leichty tried to file his taxes in March but the IRS rejected it. They sent him a letter saying his taxes had already been filed through TurboTax.

Leichty thinks someone tried to file with the IRS for a refund.

“They (U of L) didn’t know about me,” Leichty said. “Who knows how large it (the breach) is.”

Like his colleague, Futrell received a letter from the IRS requesting more information about his tax return.

“[The] problem was that I had not filed a tax return,” Futrell said. U of L had not contacted Futrell about possible tax problems.

U of L says 750 university employees have “suspicious activity” surrounding their online TALX Tax Express accounts.

Futrell believes employees should have been notified earlier than April 4.

“The thieves were filing returns minutes after they stole the information,” Futrell said.  “They could have been doing other nefarious activities as well.”

Both professors agree that the breach resulted from lax security.

“Apparently, the security measures aren’t very good; otherwise, this breach would not have happened,” Futrell said.

Leichty called the university’s response to the hack “spotty” and “minimal.” He thinks the number of hacked employees could grow as not all may have filed taxes yet.

U of L spokesperson John Karman said earlier this week the full extent of the problem may not be known until after tax filing season.

“U of L and Equifax will continue to monitor the situation and respond to employees’ concerns about suspicious activity on their accounts,” Karman said in an email April 7.

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