Credit agency reports security breach

More than 1,400 Canadians, primarily in the provinces of British Columbia and Alberta, have been notified of a major security breach at Equifax Canada Inc., a national consumer-credit reporting agency.
Equifax confirmed yesterday that it discovered the breach in late February and has notified affected consumers via registered mail asking that they contact the agency to review the contents of their respected credit files.

According to reports, access was gained to the personal, detailed credit files of more than 1,400 people. The files contained social insurance numbers, bank account numbers, credit histories, home addresses and job descriptions.

Equifax is working with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police to find the culprits of the unauthorized access. At press time, there was still no word on the success of the investigation.

Equifax spokespeople refused to comment, but the company issued a statement that outlined the steps it is taking to ensure consumer protection.

The company has activated alert messages reading "lost or stolen identification" on the credit file of each affected consumer, which Equifax said would "prompt potential creditors to carefully confirm the consumer's identity and will help protect the consumer from potential identity theft."

The agency also stated it is providing affected consumers with a one-year free subscription to Credit Alert, a service that monitors credit file activity and alerts the consumer immediately of any changes "that could signal potential identity theft."

This situation has the Canadian security community very concerned. According to Rosaleen Citron, CEO of Burlington, Ont.-based security software firm Whitehat Inc., the breach is more dangerous than any the community has seen before.

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