BMO customer hit by data breach unhappy with bank's lack of answers
'It's going to be a lot of headaches just to get things fixed,' says John Zinck
A Halifax-area man whose personal information with the Bank of Montreal was improperly accessed says he hasn't gotten a clear answer from the financial institution on when the privacy breach occurred or how many customers were affected.
John Zinck of Bedford recently received a letter from BMO, dated Aug. 16, saying that a third party had gained access to his personal information, which may have included his name, contact details, debit card account information and security login information.
As he read the letter, Zinck — who's twice had a credit card stolen and used to rack up charges — had a sinking feeling.
"This isn't going to be good," he said. "It's going to be a lot of headaches just to get things fixed."
Looking for a straight answer
Zinck said he's been trying to get a clearer understanding of what happened but BMO has been giving him inconsistent answers.
BMO did not respond to repeated requests for comment.
Zinck said he's been told by officials — including his local branch manager — that the breach happened in May, while another official said it was in June. Another said the breach happened recently, which is why he just received a letter.
In late May, BMO and CIBC-owned Simplii Financial warned that hackers had accessed the personal and account information of about 90,000 customers.
Zinck said he's been told he was one of 50,000 customers impacted by the breach, which corresponds with the number of BMO customers whose information was hacked in May. However, Zinck was also told he was part of a much smaller group — just 100 customers — whose data was accessed.
"How many data breaches are they actually having?" said Zinck.
BMO officials told Zinck the breach happened after hackers accessed his online banking information. But Zinck said he doesn't use online banking and never signed up for it.
He said the bank has offered to cover any losses stemming from the breach, as well as free credit monitoring for two years.
Stolen credit cards
Adding to his frustration is the fact that Zinck has dealt with banking-related breaches of privacy on two other occasions.
While working as an English teacher in Czechoslovakia in 1990, Zinck's credit card was stolen and while he cancelled it, a fraudster later used it to ring up bills.
"They seemed to like the fine life," said Zinck.
The second incident happened in 1996 when Zinck's belongings were stolen during his honeymoon in Florida.
He cancelled his credit cards and everything appeared fine — until MasterCard called about eight months later, asking if Zinck was trying to rent eight cars in Miami.