OTTAWA - A federal agency has lost a portable hard drive containing personal information about more than half a million people who took out student loans.
Human Resources and Skills Development Canada says the device contained data about 583,000 Canada Student Loans Program borrowers from 2000 to 2006.
The missing files include student names, social insurance numbers, dates of birth, contact information and loan balances of borrowers, as well as the personal contact information of 250 department employees.
Human Resources Minister Diane Finley has called on the RCMP to assist with the incident.
The department is sending letters to affected people for whom it has current contact information to advise them on how to protect their personal information.
A toll-free number has been set-up at 1-866-885-1866 (or 1-416-572-1113 for those outside of North America) for individuals to determine if they are affected by the breach.