Virginia Wesleyan College announced on Feb. 15 that the W-2s of those employed by the college in 2016 were compromised as a result of a phishing scam. The scam was reported in a Nota Bene emailed by President Scott D. Miller later that afternoon.
A phishing scam obtains people’s information when scammers pose as reputable sources.
Vice President for Administration and Finance, Cary Sawyer is attending to the scam’s aftermath. Sawyer said that 684 individuals were affected by the scam, both faculty and work-study students alike.
Luke Wentling, a junior impacted by the scam, said, “When I first heard about it, I thought it was just for faculty and staff, so I wasn’t really sure. Then they sent me an email saying I might be affected.”
Sawyer explained that all affected individuals received an additional email the following day, Feb. 16. Miller said that the college’s risk managers and insurance carriers were also notified of the incident, and they have helped the college to devise a plan of action.
The college is also offering involved individuals a two-year credit-monitoring plan for free that includes fraud resolution.
“It’s our hope that everybody that was affected had the ability to get a service to lock their personal information in an expedient way to prevent them from having something occur,” Miller said.
Sawyer and Director of Human Resources Karla Rasmussen will additionally be hosting meetings to answer any questions that students and faculty may have in light of the scam as well as to discuss the scam’s impact.
Miller described the response to the phishing scam as the result of “human error.”
“It was just a good, honest, long-time employee who made a mistake,” Miller said.
The employee is still working with the college. However, the college has made adjustments to its training procedures to prevent such incidents from occurring in the future. The college plans to upgrade the information that it gives staff regarding such scams.
“We’ll have a lot of education coming out. We’re exploring some other options of some programs we can put in place to be more employee-specific and target employees with specific information to help them protect themselves and the college from these types of incidents going forward,” Sawyer said.
Sawyer said that the full impact of the scam is still unknown. Information that was included with student and faculty W-2 documents was individuals’ names, home addresses, social security numbers and salary information.
The state of Virginia flagged the information of all employees that were impacted by the scam. Little complication should arise for students and faculty who have already filed their taxes. Sawyer explained that those who file their taxes and owe money should experience no problems with their tax returns.
However, faculty and students due to receive refunds will have to provide additional information to confirm their identity. Therefore, their refunds may be slightly delayed, potentially by a couple of weeks.
Sawyer urged all those affected to “please follow the instructions they’ve been given to protect themselves. If we do that, I think there’s an excellent chance that the situation may work out well for them.”