The Georgetown University Payroll Office sent out student employee W-2 forms to incorrect addresses this week.
A W-2 form indicates the annual amount of taxes withheld from an employee’s paycheck and is used to file federal and state taxes. It contains sensitive information including a Social Security number, which is often used in cases of identity theft, as it is treated as a form of identification for personal records including bank accounts, credit cards and loans.
According to the payroll office, all W-2 forms are to be mailed to each employee’s permanent address as stated on MyAccess by the end of January 2016. Student employees may also access their forms online in the Georgetown Management System.
Director of Payroll Services Claudette Richardson declined to comment regarding the reasons behind the error and the office’s response.
In an email sent to student employees Jan. 21, Associate Vice President for Benefits and Payroll Charles DeSantis explained the error and stated that the office has since mailed forms to correct addresses.
“The inadvertent mailing of your personal information to an incorrect address resulted from a one-time error in the course of processing student-workers’ year-end tax forms,” DeSantis wrote. “The University deeply regrets this occurrence. We assure you that we take the privacy and security of your personal information very seriously. … Please accept our sincere apologies for this occurrence.”
DeSantis stressed the possibility that the form information may be misused and urged student employees to remain aware of potential risks to their credit security.
“You may wish to explore the information and guidance offered by the Federal Trade Commission on how to protect yourself from identity theft. In addition, you may request a free copy of your credit report, and even put a fraud alert on your credit report,” DeSantis wrote.
Cawley Career Education Center employee Gina Kim (SFS ’18) received another student’s form, prompting concerns over the whereabouts of her own form.
“The personal information that was on it was someone else’s name, their Social Security number, their address, which is weird because it was sent to my address,” Kim said. “If this person’s form was sent to my house, then where is my form, becomes the question. It was very weird to experience.”
Bethan Saunders (SFS ’17), who works as an undergraduate research fellow at the Mortara Center for International Studies, discovered after logging into GMS that her W-2 form had been sent to an incorrect address.
“I am really confused and worried about how this happened, especially on such a large scale,” Saunders wrote in an email to The Hoya. “I found out on Facebook from a friend who posted about her issue and warned that many people were affected. She encouraged us to check GMS to see if our W2s were safe, but when I checked mine I saw that my W2 was on its way to an address in NY. Very far from my home of California!”
Misty Li (MSB ’17), who works in a residence hall office, expressed concern over the university’s lack of a rapid response. At the time of her comments, the office had not yet corresponded with employees on the issue.
“My main issue is how the university hasn’t sent any communication out yet, and also how they haven’t given us any steps on how to proceed, given that it’s been over 24 hours,” Li said. “It’s alarming for us to log in to GMS to find a different address there. Now every single person that’s dealing with it is dealing with it through word of mouth, ‘who should I contact’,’ what should I do’.”
Saunders emphasized the need for the university administration to rectify its mistake.
“I hope Georgetown will take responsibility for putting the identity and security of its student workers at risk and do something to fix this and guarantee our credit security as soon as possible,” Saunders wrote.
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