8,000 in B.C. college pension plan told of potential breach after data vanishes

The B.C. Pension Corporation has notified 8,000 members of the college pension plan of a potential privacy breach.

A box of microfiche the size of a Kleenex box disappeared during a recent office move in Victoria, said spokeswoman Sherry Sheffman.

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“It contained information about some college pension plan members with service from 1982 to 1997,” Sheffman said.

“It contained service and salary information, both private and public.”

After extensive efforts to find it were unsuccessful, the corporation declared a privacy breach with the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner on Jan. 28, she said.

“The microfiche is missing. It’s possible it was destroyed, but out of an abundance of caution, we declared it a privacy breach.”

The B.C. Pension Corporation is one of the largest pension service providers in Canada and the largest in British Columbia. It supports five pension plans with a total of 589,800 members.

While the corporation believes any breach is serious, Sheffman said, this one is considered low risk because the data is on microfiche.

“It’s very difficult to read without special equipment and the data is very old.”

The corporation has taken steps to protect members from unlawful activity, enlisting the services of a private cyber-security firm to do a search and determine if any information is at risk, Sheffman said.

“And there’s no evidence of that, and we will search again regularly.”

Based on the risk profile and the expertise of the cyber-security firm, the corporation is advising members to use the free credit monitoring recommended by the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada every six months.

The Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner has opened a file on the breach and is consulting with the B.C. Pension Corporation, senior communications officer Jane Zatylny said Thursday.

ldickson@timescolonist.com

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