Data breach to close some area Catholic schools Friday
Some area Catholic schools have altered schedules or closed Friday so staff can deal with the recently discovered archdiocese data breach that has victimized potentially hundreds of people.
Seattle Times staff reporter
Some Seattle-area Catholic schools have closed or modified their schedules for Friday so staff members can address personal issues related to the archdiocese database breach that has made potentially thousands of people vulnerable to identity theft.
O’Dea High School in Seattle won’t hold classes Friday to provide adequate time for staff members to complete the necessary steps to address the possibility of tax-refund fraud, Principal Jim Walker wrote in a notice on the school website.
“It is also my hope that the archdiocese will soon have more information on how to proceed with related concerns due to the ‘breach’ and compromised Social Security numbers,” Walker wrote.
Bishop Blanchet High School will dismiss school at 12:35 p.m., with students attending all classes but for shorter periods than usual. The building will remain open as normal until 5 p.m.
Seattle Preparatory School will dismiss early at 11:50 a.m.; however, it wasn’t clear whether that was because of the data breach.
Other schools may post closures and schedule changes and some had previously scheduled changes. Staff members and students should check with their school websites.
Bishop Blanchet has confirmed 30 cases of tax-refund fraud, President Antonio DeSapio wrote on the school website. The school will use Friday afternoon to address the “pressing financial and tax matters among our faculty and staff,” DeSapio wrote, and allow time to conduct business with financial institutions and agencies that are open during school hours.
Since last week, the archdiocese has found itself trying to pinpoint which of its many databases has been breached, making potentially thousands of employees or volunteers from Seattle-area parishes and chancery offices vulnerable to tax-refund fraud, spokesman Greg Magnoni said.
Magnoni said Thursday the breach investigation is ongoing. The archdiocese hasn’t been able to determine the number of people affected, but some employees and volunteers estimate hundreds have already reported fraudulent tax-refunds filed in their names.
The tax-fraud involves identity thieves filing fraudulent refund claims using a taxpayer’s identifying information, the IRS says. This can delay or divert tax refunds.
Because church officials are unsure how many people may be affected, the archdiocese is advising all employees and volunteers to call the IRS Identify Protection Specialized Unit at 800-908-4490, ext. 245, to see if their tax identity has been compromised.
The archdiocese will be posting updates to its website, www.seattlearchdiocese.org, Magnoni said.
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