The executive director of Central City Concern (CCC) admitted Tuesday more could have been done to protect personal information that a former employee is now accused of stealing as part of a scheme to file fake tax returns.
“I think we should have done more at that point,” said CCC Executive Director Ed Blackburn. “Unfortunately, it’s a feature of modern life that these things occur, and it’s not a pleasant thing to have happen to you.”
According to a U.S. Department of Justice investigation, an employee who worked from 2010 to 2013 at CCC, a non-profit in Portland that works with people struggling with homelessness, poverty and addictions, was stealing identities and social security numbers.
The employee then used that information as part of a scheme to file fake tax returns in the clients’ names.
Investigators said they identified 15 people whose information, they believe, was stolen from the CCC Employment Access Center Program.
“I think it’s always disappointing. It’s not just our folks,” said Blackburn.
According to CCC, none of the stolen information was ever actually used to file fake tax returns.
Blackburn said the non-profit is taking steps to ensure a similar incident never happens again.
“We have very rigorous security efforts going on at Central City Concern just like a lot of businesses,” said Blackburn.
CCC has stopped using social security numbers as identifiers, limited employee access to that information and cut down on the viewable records to only those who are currently receiving services.
The non-profit hired an independent data security specialist to take a look at their security systems and procedures to make sure there are no gaps or problems.
Blackburn said CCC is also offering free identity theft protection to any client who fears they may have been affected.