EUGENE, Ore. — Hundreds of local Catholics are finding themselves the victims of identity theft.
The Archdiocese of Portland says Social Security numbers were stolen and used to file fraudulent federal tax returns.
The fraud is widespread, and the archdiocese says it doesn’t yet have an exact count on those affected, but it estimates there are several hundred victims in western Oregon.
“My heart goes out to those who have been affected by it. Part of it is that it was so underneath everyone’s attention,” said Father John Marshall, St. Mark’s Catholic Church in Eugene.
Father John Marshall with St. Mark’s Catholic Church in Eugene says he knows some of the tax identity fraud victims.
“I am aware of quite a few people throughout the Archdiocese throughout Western Oregon, even in Eugene,” Father Marshall said.
The Archdiocese of Portland put a letter on its website laying out the crime. It says Social Security numbers were stolen and used to file fraudulent federal tax return. Basically, criminals were filing returns, and the victims who filed their own forms are being rejected because someone already filed them. The thieves are stealing identities, and in some cases refunds.
“This is a very serious situation. We are very concerned. We are working very hard to help the IRS determine the source of this situation so it can be corrected,” said Bud Bounce, Director of Communications at the Archdiocese of Portland.
The Archdiocese of Portland says it doesn’t know how the problem originated, but it says it doesn’t think there was security breach on the computer network.
“It is quite widespread. It involves people in Southern Oregon, the valley up here in the Portland area, employees, former employees and volunteers,” Bounce said.
If you believe you are a victim, contact the IRS. You’ll also need to file a local police report. And during this Holy Week, Father Marshall suggests turning to those around you to help.
“It’s unnerving, but I think being together and praying together will help those who are affected to have some peace and solace during this time,” Father Marshall said.
There are a number of forms you need to fill out if you are a victim. Click here for more information. You can also call the IRS at 1-800-908-4490, extension 245 to find out if your identity has been compromised.