Chrysler Financial customer data lost

April 23, 2008

By Dave Hall, Windsor Star

A Windsor man is upset there was a six-week delay in notifying Chrysler Financial's Canadian lease customers about a lost data tape containing their personal information.

Chris Jovanovic, who leases a car from Chrysler, said the company was notified by United Parcel Service about the lost tape on March 12, but a letter from Chrysler Financial dated March 27 didn't arrive in his mailbox until Monday.

"It's the time frame of notification that's got me upset, because if the tape did fall into the wrong hands, they've had six weeks to access the information and do something with it," said Jovanovic.

In a letter to customers dated March 27, Chrysler Financial general counsel Brian Chillman said that the company was notified by UPS on March 12 that a data tape sent by Chrysler Financial to a third-party credit reporting agency had been destroyed or lost in transit and never arrived at the agency.

"The data tape cannot be easily accessed and requires specialized software and equipment to read but it did contain some personal information that Chrysler Financial had obtained from you," said Chillman in his letter.

Despite it being not readily accessible, Chillman said "as a precautionary measure, we are alerting you to this recent incident so that you may be watchful of any possible misuse of your personal information by an unauthorized recipient."

This information includes names, addresses and social insurance numbers.

The lost information affects Chrysler Financial lease customers across Canada.

Jovanovic said he wasn't convinced by Chillman's assurances because "someone who knows what they're doing could probably access the information. Nothing's that secure these days and it annoys me to think that if the tape never shows up, will we be looking over our shoulders for years waiting for the information to be used."

A Chrysler Financial spokeswoman said that after the tape went missing, internal processes were changed and the information is now sent by secure electronic transmissions. UPS is no longer used.

She also said that the tape still hasn't been found. She was unaware of any reason for the delay in notifying customers and didn't know how many customers are affected.

Chillman, who was unavailable for comment Tuesday, also said this sort of thing had never happened before and that additional measures have been taken with this and other third-party agencies to ensure that it will not happen again.

The company has also informed the federal privacy commissioner's office and applicable provincial privacy offices.

A spokeswoman said that since being made aware of the situation, the federal agency has been monitoring and has been in contact with Chrysler to determine what happened and what measures have been taken to make sure it doesn't happen again.

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