Honda Canada notifies customers of breach (UPDATED)

A reader alerted me that Honda Canada has been notifying some customers of a breach.

According to a May 13th letter he received (French version, pdf), a breach involving unauthorized access of the My Honda ( and My Acura ( web sites was detected in March 2011 and affected customers who were on certain mail lists in 2009.  Customers’ names, addresses, and vehicle identification numbers were involved.

Unless, of course, you got a letter dated May 12, which was sent to a different subset of customers for whom Honda Financial Service Account numbers were also involved. According to their representatives, the FSA number is an internal number only and cannot be used to access your bank account information.

So how many people were affected? Honda’s not saying, but a representative told our reader that the breach affected anyone who was on certain mailing lists in 2009.   It appears that even if you didn’t create an account on their web sites, if they mailed you about upcoming specials in 2009, your data were involved.

An undated  notice on Honda’s main web site,  which is not easy to find because there is no link from the homepage, reads:

To our valued Honda customers:

Honda has learned of unauthorized access of some customer data. We would like to apologize for this incident and assure our customers that the protection and safe-keeping of your information is a responsibility that we take very seriously.

The incident involved the unauthorized access of information as held in our records in 2009, specifically name, address, Vehicle Identification Number (VIN), and in a small number of cases, Honda Financial Services (HFS) account numbers.

The information did not include any data that would typically be used for identity theft or fraud such as birth dates, telephone numbers, email addresses, credit card numbers, bank account numbers, driver’s license numbers, social insurance numbers, or dollar amounts of HFS financing or payments.

We are in the process of notifying all the potentially affected customers by mail. We do not recommend that customers take any specific action at this time, other than being alert for marketing campaigns from third parties that reference your ownership of a Honda vehicle. Honda does not share its customer information with unauthorized third parties and does not contact customers asking for financial information.

Honda sincerely apologizes for this incident and we are working diligently to protect your information and improve our data security procedures.

If you have questions or would like further information about this incident, please call us at our special toll-free line at 1-800-839-2826 which is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Customer representatives will be available to answer any inquiries, effective Monday May 16, 2011.

Once again, please accept our most sincere apologies for this occurrence.

Thanks to the reader who provided the letter.

Update: Jaikumar Vijayan of  Computerworld reports that the company is notifying 280,000 customers. His coverage also provides an explanation of why customers who never created accounts on MyHonda or MyAcura were affected: the company prepopulated forms using customer data. Read more on Computerworld.

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