Lawsuit filed over missing student loan information

Affected graduates unsatisfied with gov’t response

HRSDC says a hard drive went missing (William Hook/Flickr)

Last Friday, the agency that oversees the Canada Student Loans Program shocked post-secondary graduates by announcing it had lost social insurance numbers, full names, dates of birth, contact information and loan balances of 583,000 individuals who took federal loans between 2000 and 2006. The information was stored on an external hard drive deemed missing from a Gatineau, Que. office on Nov. 5.

Just five days after the bombshell announcement from Human Resources and Skills Development Canada, the agency that oversees Canada Student Loans, more than 4,300 Canadians had approached St. John’s Nfld.-based lawyer Bob Buckingham about his proposed class action lawsuit. Today, that class action suit was filed.

“New information comes into us by the minute from people on what is happening here, in terms of the cost and consequences to them,” says Buckingham, a privacy breach claims lawyer. He added that he hopes HRSDC will “negotiate a reasonable and realistic resolution.”

HRSDC representative Amélie Maisonneuve wrote in an email to Maclean’s On Campus Thursday morning that they are “committed to conducting a thorough and extensive review of this incident in order to prevent such an occurrence in the future.” Maisonneuve added that “extensive, in-depth and thorough search efforts for the missing hard drive have been undertaken and continue.”

HRSDC has already undertaken some action in an attempt to address the fallout. On Monday, they launched a toll-free number that concerned borrowers may call and check whether their personal information had been involved. The department has fielded more than 40,000 calls already.

But some students aren’t finding it very useful. Victoria Strange, a 25-year-old Bishop’s University graduate, called the hotline on Monday after hearing online about the privacy breach. “My future’s pretty much on the line if someone takes my identity,” she says. “There’s not much I can do about protecting my social insurance number, because I have no idea who might have it.”

Rochelle Latinsky, a 27-year-old York University graduate who lives in Toronto, made the call to HRSDC on Tuesday. She said she was told to expect a letter with further information from the department in the coming days. She says a letter doesn’t cut it: “They should be doing their best to try and reach out to people beyond a letter in the mail,” she said.

HRSDC confirmed they are mailing letters to affected individuals detailing next steps.

Latinsky has since made calls to her bank and a credit reporting agency, as suggested by HRSDC, to monitor her situation for any fraudulent activity. “The fact that I have to do all the chasing,” she says, “is really not cool.”

When asked whether they would join a class action lawsuit like Buckingham’s, both Latinsky and Strange said they would consider it. Strange says her trust in the government has been broken.

Lawsuit filed over missing student loan information

  1. I would love to have more info on the law suite

  2. I was shocked to see a post i checked by fluke on a friends facebook regarding this … I was more shocked to call in and find i was a victim and that now they would send me a letter – if I hadn’t called in I would have gotten no letter. Now I have to religiously screen MY credit because the government who forgives NOTHING has compromized MY privacy. How do I even track my sin number? Will I even know until I’ve been victimized AGAIN by a criminal? Whats criminal is that this can even happen! That its possible to happen! Whats the point in trying so hard to build good credit and have things if the very institution that requires us to so easily will throw it all away for us? Im disgusted and have joined a class action lawsuit. I dont care if who you work for you have to be responsible for the mistakes you make, god knows the government would hold US responsible, both financially and criminally!!

  3. Well Im REALLY not impress i took a online cours and the cours was a fraud fist of all student loan still wanted us to pay for something that we got nothing out off and im now in a other cours and i cant even get help from them because of the old student loan and now they loose my private information what in the world is going on Grrrr……

  4. How do you join the class action law suit

  5. How can I join the class action law suit?

  6. What is the phone number?

  7. What surprises me is the number of people who actually think that all this information will EVER be kept secret. The instant you get your first SIN card or credit card, you life is out there for any hacker who wants the information badly enough. But – as Mary-Ann said, the government would certainly be quick enough to hold US responsible if we lost their info, so what goes around comes around. The class action suit should be pushed as far as it can go, as these government offices need to be shown they cannot “distribute” our info without consequences.

  8. They also recommend that I pay 30$ a month to have my credit/identity monitored by a third party company.

    Ummmmm……no, the government should be paying for that, not me.

  9. At a minimum the gov’t should immediately be paying the $30 fee for all those affected by the loss of data to have those affected credit monitored.

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