Identity Theft Realities: Pittsburgh Tax Fraud Victims Cite ‘Extreme Anxiety, Emotional Distress’

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pittsburgh data breach tax fraudExtreme anxiety and emotional distress, to the point of feeling ill.

That’s exactly how one victim of tax-related identity theft says she felt after learning she had her identity and personal information stolen.

The victim is part of a wider lawsuit stemming from a massive breach against University of Pittsburgh Medical Center employees; so far, at least 788 workers had bogus federal tax returns filed under their name, the hospital network finally admitted.

UPMC first confirmed the identity thefts in February, stating that just 22 workers’ personal information was used to file the bogus tax returns. The hospital network, which has 62,000 employees, later said more than 300 workers had been victimized. But now UPMC officials say the attack impacted approximately 27,000 employees, 788 of whom had false tax returns filed in their names.

Lawsuit Claims ‘Failure to Maintain Adequate Security’

Would the university system have been so quick to investigate if not for the pending litigation? After all, another part of the lawsuit claims that “UPMC’s failure to maintain reasonable and adequate security procedures to protect Plaintiffs’ personal information directly resulted in this information being taken and used fraudulently.”

UPMC advised employees to verify with the IRS that their identities are safe and is also offering LifeLock identity protection to employees for free if they sign up prior to April 28.

“We are putting our full resources behind efforts to investigate and secure our systems,” UPMC Vice President John P. Houston wrote in a statement. “We recognize a situation like this creates stress and anxiety about the safety of your personal information and we want to provide you with all the tools and resources we can to help you deal with this all-too-common crime.”

UPMC notes that no patient information has been lost to the thieves. The Internal Revenue Service and other federal agencies continue to investigate.

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Elaine Rigoli

Elaine Rigoli is PRIVATE WiFi’s manager of digital content strategy.