Friday, January 18, 2013
So, the Gov't lost your identity.
Recently, a portable hard drive containing over a half-million Canadians' personal information went missing from a government office. Did I say recently? Let me start over.
Recently, the government announced that a hard drive containing the personal information of over a half-million Canadians went missing two months ago.
Now, many of us (half a million, to be near-exact) are scrambling to find out what exactly went missing, what we do now, and how to protect our information from this point forward. As an attempt to stop the swirling about our heads, here is the information in one spot, as far as I know it to be true. Any updates can be left in the comments section.
How to find out if you are one of the people affected:
-The missing hard drive contains the personal information (SIN, addresses, loan amounts, etc) of 583,000 people who took out a Canada student loan between the year 2000-2006. Source Article.
-Phone 1-866-885-1866. This toll free number has been set up so you can check if you are included. Letters are being sent to the last known addresses of everyone affected. Phone the number to ensure they have your correct address if you don't receive a letter this week (they told me the letters should arrive very soon)
-Spouses and parents of borrowers were not affected, said a spokeswoman for Human Resource Minister Diane Finley.
What to do next:
Well, we're all making it up as we go at this point -- the letters we're all waiting for have yet to arrive in many of our mailboxes. Until then, I have been advised by a friend to 'flag' my SIN via Equifax and TransUnion (Canadian credit reporting companies). What I've learned: 'flagging' a SIN puts a warning on your number, and in order to complete a transaction with your SIN you will need to prove you're you (ID, possible paperwork, etc). A few hoops, which I've heard is a bit of a pain, but this means anyone trying to use your SIN without your consent will have to, hopefully unsuccessfully, jump through the same hoops. To me, it was worth it.
*Note: The service of flagging a SIN is FREE as provided by Equifax. You will have to sit through a few sales pitches for "extra access" to your credit report (malarky, in my opinion), but the base service of what you're going for (SIN flag) should be provided free of charge by Equifax. Note on the note: at the time of publishing, I have not gotten through to TransUnion. I will confirm later if TransUnion also provides this service free of charge.
*Other note: Equifax and TransUnion do not share information, so if you want to flag your SIN, you'll need to do so with both companies.
Equifax number: 1-855-233-9226
TransUnion number: 1-800-663-9980
There are, according to media, a small number of class action lawsuits (two-three at last reading) that have been started for people effected by this security breach. At this point, I am still looking into this and do not have enough information to share. Is it a good idea to be involved? How will this effect me, and the situation in general? What happens if we win/lose? Any insights, please comment! All of us are in need of more information.
When I get mine, I'll give more details. I am assuming, with great hope, that the letter has more practical advice than what I've been able to find so far from official sources.
Note: This letter is being sent to the last address they have on file for you. Have you moved? You may want to phone that number (1-866-885-1866) to make sure they have the correct address.
IMPORTANT DISCLAIMER #1:
I am not, by any means, financially savvy and I do NOT know anything beyond what I've mentioned here about credit reports, SIN's, flagging SIN's, the effects of flagging a SIN, etc. For all I know, this post could be filled with terrible advice. Better advice can be placed in the comments section.
IMPORTANT DISCLAIMER #2:
I can not make the difference between 'affect' and 'effect' stick in my brain and often use it incorrectly. Mockery can be placed in the comments section.