Customers complain about LifeLabs response after massive privacy breach
VANCOUVER -- There are fresh concerns about a massive data breach at LifeLabs – a company that performed 34 million tests in B.C. last year alone – as customers complain of not being able to get through on a hotline set up by the company.
On Tuesday, the company reported the personal information of up to 15 million people, including 5 million British Columbians, may be in the hands of hackers. In response, LifeLabs strengthened its systems, paid a ransom to get data back, and created a hotline for those concerned cyber criminals may have their information.
The CEO also committed to identity theft monitoring and fraud protection measures for those concerned, for up to a year. He encouraged people to head to the website, which then directs people to a toll-free number.
“They'll be able to find out how to enroll in cyber benefit,” CEO Charles Brown told CTV News Tuesday.
Complaints starting coming in to CTV News almost immediately after the story aired. On Twitter, one user asked whether it was necessary to share a Social Security Number to get access to the protections, while another wanted to know why his kids weren’t covered.
For others like Sharon Mascarin, who are battling health issues, it’s an unnecessary stress.
“I thought like holy smokes, that's just not right,” the Ontario resident told CTV News.
Mascarin uses LifeLabs to monitor her bloodwork and prepare for potential bad news as she battles cancer.
“I understand in this day and age that this can happen however LifeLabs is a multi-billion dollar company," she said.
LifeLabs hasn’t said how the breach occurred or whether it could’ve been prevented.
Mascarin said she tried the toll-free number but couldn’t get through. Then she went to the website, and it wasn’t loading.
“The idea that LifeLabs is offering protection for a year for someone against this, I’m sorry that falls really, really short. They can't even get follow up correct.”
CTV News called the hotline twice. On Tuesday evening a call centre employee asked for a province and then gave a promo code. On Wednesday, a different employee asked for a province, name and phone number. Both times, the caller was asked if they were the age of majority.
CTV News asked the company for an on-camera interview multiple times, but was instead provided a statement saying the following changes are being made:
- The call centre hours are being extended to 5 a.m.-8 p.m. PST on weekdays and 5 a.m.-5 p.m. PST on weekends.
- The verification process is being streamlined for faster service to provide insurance.
- The company has increased call centre capacity to handle inquiries related to cyber insurance requests. In addition to the original call-in number, customers can also call 1-800-431-7206 in B.C. or 1-877-849-3637 in Ontario.
- LifeLabs has implemented additional training for call agents.
- The company is regularly monitoring wait times and responding accordingly.
Mascarin said the service provided by LifeLabs has been good over the 10 years she used it, but she won't use them again.
“I don't trust them at all, not at all.”