140 Ball State identity thefts, latest in college campus cyber-crime trend

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MUNCIE, Ind. (April 8, 2015) – 140 Ball State University employees are having trouble getting their tax returns this year. They were stolen by identity thieves. A breach school officials say may be tied to a massive Anthem Insurance hack, earlier this year.

No one knows how the information was stolen, but there are concerns among officials at the Attorney General’s office that this is becoming a trend on college campuses.

Ball State University provided a different kind of education Wednesday; to their employees. An email sent by administrators to staff Monday, informed them of information sessions with the FBI, Attorney General’s Office and Anthem Insurance Company, on how to not fall victim to an identity theft.

“We have the protections on the system itself and that system is monitored every single day, we’ve had third parties come in and check our systems, there’s no evidence there’s been any breach,” said Bernard Hannon, Ball State’s Vice President for Business Affairs.

140 employees and counting have been affected. Their tax returns were fraudulently filed, with cyber thieves collecting the cash.

School officials said the theft could be linked to a massive Anthem data breach earlier this year that affected 80 million customers.

But the identity theft of 140 employees on Ball State University’s Campus is a tiny slice of what has become a massive pie. Americans are losing more money to identity theft than any other property crime.

“Both this year and in 2014 over 30 colleges and universities have seen employees suffer this malady,” said Rich Bramer, the Director of the Consumer Protection Division of the Indiana Attorney General’s Office.

Bramer said Ball State is hardly alone; cyber-crime is crippling college campuses across the country.

“Northern Iowa University, Seminole State College…  Auburn University and Alabama just reported to us earlier this week they were breached from their applicants information. They had over 1,000 Hoosiers affected in the number of people who were breached with addresses and social security numbers,” he said.

1,000 Hoosiers: applicants, students, and alumni of Auburn University fell victim in that breach.

“You have technologically able people who are misappropriating their knowledge in bad ways to steal money by sitting at a desk at their house,” said Bramer.

There is concern that the stolen information won’t stop with just tax returns. The FBI is piecing together who could be behind the hack, and how to keep the thieves from using BSU employees’ information again.

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