Statistics Canada (StatCan) has managed to acquire 15 years’ worth of credit rating information from a major credit bureau – without the consent or knowledge of consumers.
The news comes as the national statistics office plans to establish a new personal information bank, containing the real-time financial transaction data of hundreds of thousands of Canadians.
According to information obtained by Global News, StatCan directed TransUnion of Canada to provide social insurance numbers, names, addresses, dates-of-birth and detailed credit information – which includes balances owed and balances overdue. Thirty (30) other fields/categories of data were also requested by the agency.
The office, which has broad powers to compel any organization to turn over any data they collect, made requests in October 2017 and more recently in January 2018.
While TransUnion confirmed the data transfer, the credit bureau would not reveal how many records were transferred.
“We are providing Statistics Canada with select administrative data on consumers to help them efficiently collect information for social and economic purposes,” TransUnion spokesperson David Blumberg told Global News in an email statement.
“Statistics Canada’s access … has no impact on any individual’s credit score,” Blumberg added. “Statistics Canada is not reviewing the credit history of individual Canadians or performing credit checks on individual Canadians.”
StatCan claims that the credit information it obtained is aggregated and used for statistical purposes only. The office also claims that it removes all personal identifiers from its database.
But a security professional experienced otherwise.
After discovering that StatCan had retrieved his credit report from TransUnion, Toronto-based privacy expert Peter Hope-Tindall filed a request under the Privacy Act to have the statistics office divulge any information it had about him. StatCan managed to provide him with all the personal identifiers he was told had been removed from the database.