Friday, January 11, 2013

HRSDC "loses" sensitive personal information of another half MILLION Canadians

The CBC is reporting tonight that Human Resources and Skills Development Canada has lost a hard drive containing very sensitive personal information on more than five hundred thousand Canadians. This time, it was a portable hard drive and the information is about 583,000 student loan recipients.

Federal agency loses data on 583,000 Canadians - Nova Scotia - CBC News:
A portable hard drive containing personal information about more than half a million people who got student loans has gone missing, the federal government revealed Friday.

Human Resources and Skills Development Canada says the device disappeared from an HRSDC office in Gatineau, Que., in early November.

The hard drive had personal information on 583,000 Canadians who were clients of the Canada Student Loans program from 2000 to 2006. Borrowers from Quebec, Nunavut and the Northwest Territories are not affected.

The information on the missing hard drive includes:

  • Student names, social insurance numbers, dates of birth, contact information and loan balance of Canada Student Loan borrowers. 
  • Personal contact information for 250 HRSDC employees. 
The government says no banking or medical information was on the hard drive.

Letters are going out to everyone affected to tell them what steps to take to protect themselves.  

No evidence of fraud

So far, there's no sign that any of the missing data has been accessed or used for fraudulent purposes, but the government has called in the RCMP and alerted the office of the privacy commissioner.

"I want all Canadians to know that I have expressed my disappointment to departmental officials at this unacceptable and avoidable incident in handling Canadians’ personal information," said Human Resources and Skills Development Minister Diane Finley in a statement.

"I have requested that HRSDC employees across Canada receive comprehensive communications on the seriousness of these recent incidents and that they participate in mandatory training on a new security policy to ensure that similar situations do not occur again."
She says employees who fail to adhere to the new policy could be fired.

This is the second incident involving missing personal information that her department has faced in less than a month.

In late December, HRSDC revealed that a USB key containing personal information on about 5,000 Canadians disappeared in November.

Update: Check out the Government of Canada media release on this breach.


Anonymous said...

Hello, thanks for taking the time to read this comment. I am very green on the issue, so please forgive my ignorance.

I have confirmed that I was one of the 580,000 people who's information has gone missing.

I am wondering what kind of legal recourse is possible. Must there be proof of identity theft to file suit? Are situations like this generally just skated over with the promise of increased diligence?

Anonymous said...

Hi there,

I would also like to know what we can do. I called in and confirmed I was affected. They advised me to check my banks and credit cards, AND to check my credit score regularly.

The cost for monthly credit reporting from transunion and Equifax is $14.95 per month for EACH company. That's approximately $30 per month. $360 per year for the rest of my life. And I have to pay this additional cost because THEIR mistake left me vulnerable to identity theft.

At a minimum, I would expect those costs to be covered, but they are not. We are expected to pay this additional fee.

Katie M. said...

I would also like to know what can be done to protect us? I have also been affected.

Who is going to pay for identity theft insurance or costs incured because your identity was stolen?

And compensation for HSRDC's recommendations which the above commenter describes.

Is there opporunity for class action suit here? I am game. This is unacceptable.

Why are they keeping people's SIN if they've paid things off? What are the policies in play here?(rentention period, etc.)?

Anonymous said...

The 5000 folks whose info was lost, is the big story, but our gov't is tripping over themselves to talk about the students only? why? There is a good reason which hopefully comes to light through legal investigations. The 583 000 students would never have been found had it not been for people investigating the first breach. The group of 5000 had all the student info, plus all their medical records, employment history etc etc. We are the collateral damage to save a few higher ranking politicians. Go figure, a whooops sorry, we'll do better is supposed to make it all go away like they want these people to;)

Anonymous said...

Seriously, they had no backups? One copy of all those files?
I don't believe this is true.
Somebody somewhere has these files.

Meanwhile, if this isn't a perfect class action suit, I don't know what is.