Stolen laptop contained thousands of
EDMONTON – The Canadian Press reported that hundreds
of angry doctors and their families were demanding answers from a
financial services company after a laptop computer
containing thousands of
personal files was stolen from a car in a parking lot.
About 8,000 clients of MD Management, a subsidiary of the Canadian
Medical Association, received a letter from the company dated June 29
warning them that a laptop computer containing detailed information
about their financial and professional circumstances had been stolen.
The computer was taken from an MD Management employee’s locked car
during a break-in, said Guy Belanger, president of the MD Financial
Group. “The car was in a shopping centre parking lot,” he said. “The
window was smashed. The contents of the car were stolen, including the
laptop.” Earlier that day, the employee had downloaded extensive
information onto the laptop.
“There were several thousand files, clients of our Edmonton-area
regional office,” Belanger said.
Once the employee contacted head office, officials checked source files
to determine what information had been copied. The files include such
identifying information as names, ages and addresses as well as
professional and financial information.
Belanger said the information was protected by password. He added there
is no evidence to suggest the thieves targeted the laptop, nor is there
any indication the information has been used.
“The police considered this to be a random theft.”
MD Management has hired a private investigator to try to track down the
laptop. And the company is taking precautions to try to keep the
information from being used for fraudulent purposes by contacting
Canada’s two credit bureaus, Equifax and TransUnion.
Those bureaus will flag the files for as long as six years, telling
financial institutions to double-check the identity of anyone using the
information. “I’ve talked to several hundred clients over the last few
weeks to reassure them and tell them how seriously we take this,”
Edmonton police and Alberta’s privacy commission are investigating the
theft. MD Management, part of a group of companies that offer various
financial services to Canadian doctors and their families, is reviewing
its policies on what information may be downloaded in what circumstances
and by which employees.
“It was obvious from this particular theft that there is room for
improvement,” Belanger said.
“This was an employee error. But we want to make it as foolproof as
possible. The privacy of our clients is paramount.”