Skip to main content
Advertising

Originally published March 11, 2014 at 9:37 PM | Page modified March 11, 2014 at 9:56 PM

  • Share:
             
  • Comments (5)
  • Print

Seattle Archdiocese trying to figure which databases hacked

Employees or volunteers from at least three Roman Catholic parishes and the Seattle Archdiocese’s chancery offices have been targeted by a tax-fraud scheme, according to the archdiocese.


Seattle Times staff reporter

Database breach

The Archdiocese of Seattle advises all employees and volunteers to call the IRS Identify Protection Specialized Unit at 1-800-908-4490, ext. 245, to determine if their tax identity has been compromised.

Most Popular Comments
Hide / Show comments
Surely this is a bigger issue than tax fraud. Since the hackers acquired enough... MORE
"declining to name the three parishes?" uh, ok- useful thanks for that. ... MORE
Don't file my tax return - Bro... Unless you pay what I owe - Then it's fine with me! MORE

advertising

Joining the ranks of recent data-breach victims like Target and the Washington state Office of the Courts, the Archdiocese of Seattle has found itself trying to pinpoint which of its many databases has been breached, making potentially thousands of people vulnerable to identity theft.

The archdiocese has hired a forensic-security firm to help it investigate the breach, which has resulted in employees and volunteers being targeted by a national tax-fraud scheme, the archdiocese said Tuesday.

The victims include employees or volunteers from at least three Seattle-area parishes and the chancery offices, according to the archdiocese. Spokesman Greg Magnoni declined to name the three parishes.

Because church officials are unsure how many people may be affected, the archdiocese is advising that all employees and volunteers call the Internal Revenue Service Identify Protection Specialized Unit at 1-800-908-4490, ext. 245, as soon as possible to determine whether their tax identity has been compromised.

In the tax-refund fraud scheme, identity thieves typically file fraudulent refund claims using a taxpayer’s Social Security number, according to the IRS. This can lead to delayed or diverted tax refunds.

Church officials were first notified of the fraud cases last week, Magnoni said. Because the reports came from just one parish initially, “it was presumed to be a local issue,” according to a memo sent Friday to area parishes by Chancellor Mary E. Santi.

After the memo went out, church officials realized the extent of the fraud was greater than they thought, which prompted the archdiocese to post a notice on its website Monday.

“It kind of mushroomed from there,” Magnoni said. “When the announcements went out, people began checking their returns, and more individuals from different parishes and the chancery discovered it as well.”

The archdiocese has reported the breach to the FBI and the IRS and hired New York-based forensic-security firm Stroz Friedberg to try to identify the source.

The source may be difficult to pinpoint, Magnoni said, because the archdiocese has so many databases with various types of information. The breach may have occurred from a database in parishes or schools, a vendor’s system or another source.

“It’s hugely complex,” Magnoni said. “We’re not going to know what happened until they identify where the breach occurred and what the entry point was.”

The archdiocese requests anyone who discovers his or her tax return has been compromised to send an email to taxinformation@seattlearch.org and include full name, parish or school, and identify whether they are an employee or volunteer.

The archdiocese will update its website with additional information when it’s available, Magnoni said.

He said the archdiocese has a number of data-security practices in place.

“We have done everything we could to make sure that the databases are secure,” Magnoni said. “We will continue to do things to make sure they are secure in the future.”

Paige Cornwell: 206-464-2530 or pcornwell@seattletimes.com



Want unlimited access to seattletimes.com? Subscribe now!

News where, when and how you want it

Email Icon

Bake cookies for a cause

Bake cookies for a cause

Get 23 scrumptious recipes in our "Quintessential Cookies" e-book. One dollar of your $3.95 purchase goes to Fund For The Needy.

Advertising

Partner Video

Advertising


Advertising
The Seattle Times

The door is closed, but it's not locked.

Take a minute to subscribe and continue to enjoy The Seattle Times for as little as 99 cents a week.

Subscription options ►

Already a subscriber?

We've got good news for you. Unlimited seattletimes.com content access is included with most subscriptions.

Subscriber login ►