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Desjardins expands protection plan for members after data breach

Names, dates of birth, social insurance numbers, addresses and phone numbers of almost 3 million individual members were released to people outside the organization, Desjardins said.
Names, dates of birth, social insurance numbers, addresses and phone numbers of almost 3 million individual members were released to people outside the organization, Desjardins said.

All Desjardins caisse members are now automatically protected against identity theft at no cost, the company said.

MONTRÉAL, Que. —

Mouvement Desjardins is expanding a protection plan for personal and business customers in the wake of the data leak that compromised the personal information of more than 2.9 million members.

All Desjardins caisse members are now automatically protected against identity theft at no cost, chief executive officer Guy Cormier said Monday. Desjardins will also reimburse up to $50,000 of expenses related to identity theft such as salary loss, document notarization or legal and accounting fees.

“Our members can sleep soundly,” Cormier said on a conference call with reporters. “Desjardins is being proactive, Desjardins is putting measures in place. We are clearly saying that if there are unauthorized financial transactions in people’s accounts, we will indemnify them.”

Desjardins is the only financial institution in Canada to offer this kind of service free of charge, Cormier said.

Canada’s biggest cooperative disclosed the data breach last month, which it blamed on an “unauthorized and illegal use of internal data” by an unidentified employee who has since been fired. Computer systems were not breached, Desjardins said at the time.

Names, dates of birth, social insurance numbers, addresses and phone numbers of about 2.7 million individual members were released to people outside the organization, Desjardins said June 20. Passwords, security questions and personal identification numbers weren’t compromised, Desjardins stressed. About 173,000 business customers were also affected.

Desjardins teamed up with the Equifax credit bureau last month to offer those affected a credit-monitoring plan as well as identity-theft insurance — initially for one year but now extended to five years.

Only about 360,000 Desjardins members have signed up so far for the Equifax protection, a fraction of the cooperative’s total membership of 4.3 million.

“That’s not sufficient,” Desjardins chief operating officer Denis Berthiaume said on the conference call.

Desjardins says it hasn’t noticed any increase in fraud in June and July compared with the same months in 2018 or 2017, Cormier said. The cooperative also hasn’t witnessed any significant member departures, he said.

“I do not want to trivialize identify theft, but in the last few weeks, all the specialists we worked with told us that the proportion of data leaks that results in identify theft is very small,” Cormier said. “We are talking percentage points.”

Cormier himself is one of those who signed up for the Equifax plan, having received a letter that advised him his personal data had been compromised. The CEO also confirmed a Journal de Montreal report that Claude Béland, one of his predecessors at the cooperative’s helm, had his identity stolen.

“Desjardins will be there to help Mr. Béland,” Cormier said.

The House of Commons standing committee on public security is expected to hold a hearing Monday on the Desjardins data breach .

 

 

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