After a data breach affecting 40% of Desjardins bank customers, leaving them open to identity theft, president Guy Cormier announced he’d be offering free protection to all of the credit union’s members. 

Desjardins has about 4.3 million individuals and 300 000 businesses as customers. According to La Presse, each and every one of their clienteles will be promised free legal access and compensation for identity theft losses. 

The credit union is willing to give up to $50,000 to clients in need.   

Cormier assured that access to this protection is automatically given: “no need to call, no need to come to the bank. If you were affected or not by the leak of personal information, you are now protected.”

Desjardins says they will take on responsibilities including filing police reports and contacting government agencies.

This initiative follows a data leak by an “ill-intentioned” employee who collected the data of millions of people. The information they then shared included personal details like addresses, birth dates, and social insurance numbers. 

The public outcry that ensued provoked a petition with tens of thousands of signatures. Customers were asking for a change to their SIN’s, which, the petition stated, is the “least the Canadian government could do to help restore some peace of mind to the victims,”

To these beset Desjardin’ customers, the company has promised five free years of credit monitoring with Equifax. To date, few members have registered with Equifax. The protection agency is reportedly offering problems in terms of service times and linguistic accessibility. 

Of those 2.7 million affected, only 360 000—13 percent—have filed with Equifax.

Cormier was also able to confirm that there’s been no increase in reports of fraud, or a large exodus of clientele. “I do not want to trivialize identify theft, but in the last few weeks, all the specialists we worked with told us that the proportion of data leaks that results in identity theft is very small.”

Meanwhile, members of the Quebec government are set to hold a parliamentary committee hearing on the data breach. Members of the House of Commons are set to discuss the possibility of new social insurance numbers and for protection against future data leaks.