Equifax Canada seeks to regain trust in its security after major U.S. breach

TORONTO — Equifax Canada’s reputation took a hit after its U.S. parent revealed a massive data breach last year, but chief privacy officer John Russo says the 19,000 affected Canadian accounts haven’t been linked to any fraud.

Russo’s assurances come as the credit monitoring company promoted its new Canadian income and employment verification service for lenders amid stricter mortgage rules.

Under a new standard, federally regulated mortgage lenders have been required since Jan. 1 to do stress tests on a prospective borrower’s ability to withstand an increase in interest rates even if they don’t require mortgage insurance.

“There’s increased rigour when they have to verify third-party information,” Russo said. “They can’t just rely on pay stubs and stuff that you bring as a borrower. They have to use an independent source.”

Equifax was tight-lipped in the aftermath of the hack last year.

In promoting the new service, Russo acknowledged that the company’s reputation as a custodian of sensitive personal data took a hit with the leak of confidential information for about 145 million Americans from one of several Equifax databases.

The breach included names, addresses and social security and credit card numbers, as well as usernames, passwords and secret question/secret answer data.

Equifax’s reputation was damaged by the sensitivity of the information, the security lapse that allowed the leak and the delay in announcing the breach.

While the company didn’t announce the hack until Sept. 7, it was discovered in July and likely began in mid-May.

The Atlanta-based company was also initially unable to say how many Canadians were affected, then estimated the number at 100,000 on Sept. 19, 8,000 on Oct. 2 and the current estimate of 19,000 on Nov. 28.

“First and foremost, I would say ‘sorry’ to all Canadians,” Russo said — repeating an apology that he delivered in December to a House of Commons committee in Ottawa.

Russo noted that, as of this week, none of the Canadians who used the hacked U.S. server has reported any signs of identity theft since they were notified of the risk.

The company’s monitoring has also found no evidence the Canadian account information has been bought or sold.

Paul Taylor, president and CEO of Mortgage Professionals Canada, said Equifax’s new income and employment verification service has potential if it works as intended.

But Taylor said he has no way to judge whether it will meet OSFI’s requirements or be cost-effective for mortgage lenders.

“I think lenders are already doing quite thorough due diligence of income verification on mortgage applications these days,” Taylor said.

Media representatives for the federal privacy commissioner and the main federal banking watchdog said their offices are aware of Equifax’s new Canadian verification service but they have no role in validating new products.

Just Posted

Child’s play at Westerner Days

Balloons bring out the child in everyone

‘Do Indians have property rights?’ Former Alberta chief’s land dispute in court

STANDOFF, Alta. — A dispute between two families over land on Canada’s… Continue reading

Missing female found near Sundre

Local rancher finds missing female

Buyers turn to letters to snag homes in Canada’s hot real estate markets

TORONTO — Monica Martins and her husband had been looking for a… Continue reading

WATCH: Gazebo groundbreaking in Waskasoo

Fifty per cent of the $100,000 project is funded by a provincial government grant

Second World War Two-era B-29 Superfortress named ‘Fifi’ lands for first-ever Canadian tour

MONTREAL — A rare Second World War-era bomber named “Fifi” has touched… Continue reading

Magnus Cort Nielsen wins Stage 15 of Tour de France

CARCASSONNE, France — Magnus Cort Nielsen of Denmark sprinted away from two… Continue reading

Ryan Reynolds teases ‘Deadpool 2’ extended cut at Comic-Con

SAN DIEGO — Ryan Reynolds has made a triumphant return to San… Continue reading

‘Wonder Woman,’ ‘Aquaman’ and ‘Shazam!” thrill Comic-Con

SAN DIEGO — Warner Bros. brought out all the stops Saturday at… Continue reading

All shell, no shock: Lobster prices strong, season picks up

PORTLAND, Maine — New England’s lobster industry faces big new challenges in… Continue reading

Woman killed in collision near Olds

A woman is dead after a collision west of Olds Saturday afternoon.… Continue reading

Evacuation numbers remain at nearly 1,000 as B.C. wildfires rage on

SUMMERLAND, B.C. — Officials in British Columbia’s Okanagan region hope that fire… Continue reading

Survivors recount deadly Missouri duck boat sinking

BRANSON, Mo. — “Grab the baby!” Those were the last words Tia… Continue reading

Most Read

Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month