The University of Victoria could be on the hook for credit monitoring services offered to anyone whose personal information was compromised in last weekend’s break-in.
Beginning next week, employees and former employees will be able to sign up for one year of Equifax or TransUnion’s credit monitoring service worth $150 per person. UVic will foot the bill.
A total of 11,841 employees are impacted by the data breach, and the university expects to negotiate a less expensive rate based on the number of individuals who participate.
“It certainly does have a price tag, and that’s unfortunate that that’s what we’re using dollars for, but it’s an important thing we need to do,” said Gayle Gorrill, vice-president of finance and operations. “We’re hearing from our external advisers that this is another thing that’s a very prudent action to take, so again, we’re recommending that (employees take advantage of the monitoring service).”
Gorrill says the university is finalizing agreements with the credit bureaus, but they will get a somewhat discounted rate.
“Credit monitoring provides an additional level of protection beyond placing an alert on your credit file through monitoring of credit activity,” Gorrill wrote in an email to staff Friday afternoon. Prior to Friday, the university had been recommending the free option through the credit bureaus: placing an alert on your credit file.
The paid monitoring service provides users with alerts to any changes in their credit, updated credit reports, ongoing monitoring, identity theft insurance and access to fraud prevention experts.
Scott McCannell, executive director of the Professional Employees Association, which represents nearly 880 UVic employees, says he’s pleased to hear the university will be offering free credit monitoring.
“We are looking at this as a step in the right direction,” he said. “We’ve sought and received independent expert advice, and they’ve told us the minimum time frame that credit monitoring should be provided is two years, so we’ll be continuing those discussions with the university.”
Saanich police and the university have still not determined when the break-in to the Administrative Services Building occurred. Instead, they say it happened in a 24-hour time frame between the evening of Saturday, Jan. 7, and late afternoon on Jan. 8.
Multiple rooms in the locking building were ransacked and had items stolen from inside. One of the items was digital storage device that contained the social insurance numbers and banking information of all UVic employees since January 2010.
As of Friday, no new reports of fraud have been reported to police. One former UVic employee had thousands of dollars stolen from her bank account on Monday. It wasn’t reported until Wednesday.
Police cannot yet confirm that the employee was victimized because of the data breach at UVic, but they suspect that is the case.
“This turn of events obviously provides some avenues for investigation. … But it is unfortunate that we didn’t get a break until someone was victimized,” said Sgt. Dean Jantzen.
Jantzen said Friday that detectives were still waiting on the victim’s bank to provide them with more information on the fraudulent activity.
Employees will receive information next week on how to sign up for the year-long credit monitoring service.
Police are asking that only people who suspect they have been victimized contact investigators. Otherwise, questions and concerns should be directed to the University of Victoria (250-472-4333) or your financial institution.
Anyone with information on the break-in or fraud is asked to contact Saanich police at 250-475-4321 or Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.
Editor’s note: This story and its headline have been updated to better reflect the uncertainty over exactly how much the University of Victoria will pay to enable all affected employees to utilize credit monitoring services.