A data breach at UnitedHealthcare Services has affected 1,132 graduate students enrolled in the University of California Irvine (UCI) health insurance program during the 2006-2007 school year. According to UCI, the data breach has led to a rash of identity-theft crimes at the university.
Fraudulent tax returns were filed for 155 graduate and medical students at the school due to the breach, according to Cathy Lawhon, the university's media relations director.
UC Irvine police and IT staff have been investigating the crime since February, when police began getting reports from graduate students who claimed that when they filed their income tax returns, they were told their returns had already been filed using their Social Security numbers, Lawhon said.
Based in Minnetonka, Minn., UnitedHealthcare is one of the largest healthcare service providers in the United States. A company spokeswoman confirmed that some university students' personal information "may have been accessed without authorization," but she could not comment on the source of the breach.
Other UnitedHealthcare customers have not been affected, the spokeswoman said. "As far as we know, this situation was isolated to UCI,” she added.
The healthcare company has offered to pay for credit monitoring for all affected students and would assist them in other ways and UC-Irvine has offered to loan money to students affected by the breach, according to the Orange County Register.