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Data breach at VM Wealth - Clients’ info leaked in error, says CEO

Published:Saturday | February 15, 2020 | 12:00 AMRomario Scott/Gleaner Writer

Executives at the Victoria Mutual Group are scrambling to cauterise a fallout resulting from a massive data breach that saw thousands of customer records being sent out in an email to an undisclosed number of clients.

 According to Victoria Mutual Wealth Management Chief Executive Officer Rez Burchenson, on Thursday, February 13, a member of the VM Wealth team “inadvertently” sent an email to a subset of VM Wealth clients with an attachment containing non-financial information on some clients.

Burchenson said none of VM’s clients’ financial information was shared.

However, the breach has been causing grave concern in financial circles.

“We have in place strong information security systems, policies and procedures. Our clients’ privacy is of utmost importance and, as such, we wish to assure all stakeholders that we have already fortified our internal processes to keep your data safe.

“We will be conducting further reviews and will implement any additional controls that are deemed necessary,” Burchenson said.

The Gleaner has seen an email sent from an adviser to a VM Wealth client containing tax registration numbers, addresses, contact numbers, and Jamaica Central Securities Depository numbers of thousands of other clients.

The client on the receiving end was unable to say why he received the email.

“It was really shocking to me because I was like, how come I received this, and then I called other of my friends and I asked them about it, and some didn’t initially realise they got and then told me they got it,” the client said.

“And the next thing is that they take so long to respond to email, and it takes forever to get through to them on phone.”

According to one of the clients with whom The Gleaner spoke yesterday evening, some 62 pages of information containing data of more than 5,000 customers was sent out to various clients.

The exact number of persons who received the email could not be ascertained.

VM further explained that the issue stemmed from a breach of internal procedures.

“The requisite investigation by our HR Department has commenced. We are communicating with our affected clients and have set-up hotlines for clients to call to have their concerns addressed,” the VM Wealth CEO said, adding that the group has rushed to beef up its data-protection infrastructure.

Victoria Mutual, responding to concerns of another client who apparently received the same email, said, “We apologise for the error and ask you to delete the email. We have addressed the issue. If you are still concerned, please call Tamara Waul-Douglas [number redacted].”