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Saturday, Oct 1, 2022
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Capital One: the cup too many

It’s not just the straw that broke the camel’s back, but the entire camel’s back that Capital One credit cardholders who are also Desjardins members have just had their faces slapped when they learned of the theft of their personal information. No one knows what happened to this confidential data, which may be enough to obtain a credit card, open a bank account and carry out fraudulent transactions.
Capital One is an American bank with an online services subsidiary in Canada. Still, its exclusive partnership with Costco and HBC (La Baie) has enabled it to quickly recruit the millions of Canadian customers who are victims of this theft today.
Yesterday, on its website, Capital One recommended that these victims register with the two credit reporting agencies, Equifax and TransUnion, without offering to pay the price, at least for the moment. However, suppose we believe the recent experience of thousands of Desjardins clients. In that case, nothing is less straightforward than opening an account with Equifax if, unfortunately, online registration fails on the first attempt. This is the case for most Desjardins members who do not have a recent credit report.
We have thus witnessed, personally, five attempts over the past two weeks to open an Equifax account by telephone after a procedure started online. Each time, the wait to speak to an agent exceeded two hours, or even three, and each time, it was followed by about fifteen minutes of a dialogue of the deaf with ill-equipped employees who were unable to conclude only with a “Call back later, our computers are down!” And the account is still not accessible.

As for the attempts on the side of Access D, even if faster, they resulted in the same instruction: “Sorry, you must call Equifax, here is another number,” without more success.
How can we believe, in these circumstances, in the effectiveness of monitoring millions of personal files? If at a minimum, Canadian law required these private reporting agencies to freeze any new credit application at the request of an individual, as is the case in the United States, we would be better protected, but no. Why that?
The Government of Canada has always stuck its head in the sand by maintaining its confidence in these financial and Web multinationals who profit like thieves at a fair.
In this era of virtual navigation marked by the exponential increase in the number of connected gadgets and transactions without an intermediary, personal data protection has become more important than locking your door before leaving your home. However, public and private institutions, banks, and businesses hold many keys to our assets and our borrowing capacity. They are the ones who have the responsibility to protect it from any attempted theft perpetrated from outside or inside their walls. How is it possible that a single employee could quickly gather confidential data without a single flashing red flickering on the dashboard?
In Quebec, the CAQ government is preparing to create a particular unit of the Treasury Board devoted to cybersecurity. It plans to entrust the private sector with cloud computing with the hosting of a significant part of the data collected by the State. However, reserving the most sensitive 20%. Will that be enough? These measures do not include protecting information held by telecommunications companies, Internet companies, and banks (except Desjardins), which fall under federal jurisdiction.
In Ottawa, Finance Minister Bill Morneau said he was “very concerned” about the Capital One affair and ordered an investigation by the Superintendent of Financial Institutions. Of course, an investigation is necessary, but more is needed. We need binding measures with heavy penalties to force companies to protect personal information at the top of their priorities, as is the case in Europe.
There is also an urgent need to consider providing every Canadian with a tamper-proof digital identity in addition to their social insurance number. And we must, in the meantime, force companies to fully bear the cost of measures for the complete protection over time of victims of theft of the personal information in their custody. The prank has gone on long enough.

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