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Data Breach At Archdiocese Prompts Early Student Release At Bishop Blanchet High School

The Archdiocese of Seattle has hired a forensic security team to help investigate a data breach that has affected employees and church volunteers. Someone has apparently acquired personal information and has been using it to file false tax returns to collect the refunds.

The source of the data breach at the Archdiocese of Seattle is still under investigation by the FBI and IRS. The Archdiocese declined to comment but issued a memo about the data breach earlier this week.

Meantime, students at Seattle’s Bishop Blanchet High School were released early on Friday. The administration wanted to give faculty, staff and volunteers time to check on the status of their tax returns.

Right now it’s unclear just how many schools may be involved. Bishop Blanchet officials said at least 30 cases have been reported at the school.

Marta McCullough, who has a student at Bishop Blanchet, has volunteered at St. Joseph’s on Capitol Hill for years. She called the IRS as soon as she got the letter from the Archdiocese. “I was on hold for about 40 minutes; they looked into it and said as of now, nobody has used my identity to file anything,” she said.

McCullough still hasn’t filed her 2013 taxes. She isn’t totally sure she won’t still become a victim. “It’s horrible. We don’t know what’s going to happen,” McCullough said.

Craig Spiezle, the executive director of the Online Trust Alliance in Bellevue, Wash., said the data breach is another example of how determined cyber criminals can compromise data from any organization. “Cyber criminals have the same tools that markets have. They know how to merge and append data,” Spiezle said.