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Lamps Plus Inadvertently Releases Employee Information To 'Unknown Criminal'

CHATSWORTH ( — Imagine going to file your taxes only to find out it's already been done and your refund is gone?

That's what happened to some employees of Lamps Plus, a company which has stores throughout the western United States.

They say they received a troubling letter this month stating "an unknown criminal sent an email to an individual at Lamps Plus, which was intended to look as though it came from another Lamps Plus employee. The response to that email resulted in the criminal obtaining copies of your W-2 income and tax withholding statement, along with those of every other employee who worked for us during 2015."

The letter says each employee's "name, address, Social Security number, earnings and withholding information" were sent to the unknown criminal.

The result?

When some employees tried to file their 2015 tax returns, "the IRS advised them that tax returns had already been filed in their name."

"This is outrageous," said Jamie Court, the president of Consumer Watchdog. "This could turn an employee's life upside down."

Employees at the corporate headquarters and at the retail store next door initially declined to speak to CBS2, which requested an on-camera interview with the chief financial office.

After waiting for a couple of hours, the news crew was told they would have to leave and move to the sidewalk and was not allowed on company property.

On March 25, Lamps Plus Chief Financial Officer Clark Linstone issued a statement which read in part: "The data breach did not affect any of our internal systems and no customer information was disclosed. Unfortunately, Lamps Plus employees during the 2015 calendar year are impacted, and the company is making a concerted effort to provide a suite of resources to assist them, including one-year of credit monitoring services, identity counseling and other services.

"Lamps Plus regrets this incident happened and immediately notified our employees and we are doing everything possible to mitigate any effect on them."

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