University alerts students of possible privacy concern with student invoice information

599 students at Wilfrid Laurier University were notified via e-mail on Thursday about a potential privacy breach with some of their information on next semester’s invoices.

According to Kevin Crowley, acting assistant vice-president: communications, public affairs and marketing at Laurier, some students were mistakenly given another student’s invoice information in addition to their own. The only information that appeared on the invoice was a student’s name, address, their identification number and how much they owe in tuition.

No banking information or social insurance numbers appeared on the invoices.

“We take these cases very seriously. What has been done is that we have identified the problem and we put some measures in place to make sure that it doesn’t happen again,” explained Crowley, adding that it was a result of a processing error for the invoices that were supposed to be two pages.

Since only a select number of students received two-page invoices, Crowley believes that the number of people affected by this situation is fewer than 599. As a precautionary measure the university decided to e-mail all those who were expected to receive two page invoices.

“The problem seems to have occurred with the ones that are two pages in length, and it looks like some students received one page of their own information and the second page contained information from another student,” continued Crowley. “So to be transparent as possible, we sent out the letter to 599 students, but we think it was far fewer than that.”

The business office at Laurier sent out the invoices on November 25 and was notified by a parent about the possible privacy breach on November 29. The university then notified the privacy office at Laurier and the Ontario Information and Privacy Commissioner.

“It was private information, we shouldn’t have been sending out information about other students,” added Crowley.

Crowley noted that there have been adjustments to how the invoices are packaged and mailed out. He added that the university is planning on implementing an electronic billing system by next year so that the chance of a similar situation occurring in the future is minimal.

The university has asked those students who have received another student’s information to shred the information that isn’t theirs.

 

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