CORNER BROOK — Helen Reid doesn’t carry her social insurance number in her wallet, is really careful about her computer passwords and is a shredder of information.
“My biggest threat wasn’t some other person around me or living on my block, it was the government,” said the Corner Brook resident.
Reid is one of the nearly 600,000 Canadians, clients of the Canada Student Loans program between 2000 and 2006, whose social insurance numbers and other personal information is contained on a portable hard drive that went missing from a Human Resources and Skills Development Canada office in Gatineau, Que., in early November.
She’s also part of a group of affected individuals who feel their questions about the situation aren’t being answered and who want action.
Reid said the feeling among members, who span from Newfoundland to British Columbia, is that there is strength in numbers.
Members of the group communicate mostly through Facebook. Ironically though, the Facebook group is a closed one and can’t be accessed by non-members. To Reid that speaks to the concern over the situation.
“We don’t know who might be trolling for more information and not information about, say, the situation, but information about us.”
Last week the federal government announced it would pay credit bureau Equifax for credit flagging for those whose information has been confirmed to be missing. But Reid’s group doesn’t think this goes far enough. Flagging is already a free service in most areas and doesn’t involve the same level of service that affected individuals would get from another credit bureau plan. They would have to pay for the other plans themselves.
A letter written on behalf of the group states members feel no one affected by the breach should have to incur expenses as a result of government’s mishandling of information.
While asking the government to pay for credit checks has some validity, Reid said she’d like to see the feds cancel the social insurance numbers of those affected and issue new ones. That’s something the government won’t do unless those affected have proof of fraudulent activity involving their SIN.
“Just because it may have been compromised, to them is not a significant reason to have it changed,” she said. “Personally, I would feel safer knowing that my old social insurance number is gone.”