BRUNSWICK, Maine — Bowdoin College officials on Thursday notified 275 current and former faculty and staff members that their Social Security numbers, addresses and other personal information was accessed improperly through the company that manages the college’s payroll tax filings.
Officials from the Maine Revenue Service contacted Bowdoin on Tuesday to say the MRS had received a suspicious tax return that received valid W-2 information, Bowdoin spokesman Scott Hood said Friday.
The data theft was discovered one day after an employee in the Brunswick School Department’s administrative office responded to what turned out to be a phishing scam and emailed to the scammer tax forms minus dates of birth and Social Security numbers for about 400 school department employees.
Bowdoin’s information was acquired through a Web portal operated by Ceridian HCM Inc., a cloud-based company that manages the college’s payroll tax filings.
Late Wednesday night, college officials received a list of employees whose information had been compromised, and college officials sent letters to the employees with information about how to protect their identities, Hood said.
“I think what happened here is a case where someone — or somebodies —-had valid W-2 information and attempted to file a fraudulent tax return, presumably in order to collect any kind of refund,” he said.
Hood said Ceridian computer networks — not the college’s — were the subject of the attack, and no student information, including that of student employees, was compromised.
Bowdoin had already begun to transition away from using the Ceridian system, according to Hood.
The college offered those affected two years of credit and fraud protection at no cost to them.
“We take very seriously the privacy of employee and student data and we’re working constantly to monitor and update our systems in keeping with best practices, because this kind of behavior is happening in many places all the time and what we’ve learned is you have to really pay attention, so we’re working on that,” Hood said.