Computer gets names mixed up on Canada savings bonds - 4,262 public servants get wrong certificates : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread


October 18, 1999

Computer gets names mixed up on CSBs

4,262 public servants get wrong certificates

Kate Jaimet The Ottawa Citizen

More than 4,000 federal public servants received Canada Savings Bonds with the wrong names on them this month, thanks to a computer glitch at the Bank of Canada.

The bank is in the midst of contacting 4,262 people who received bonds registered to a person often bearing a name similar to that of the rightful owner, like Smith instead of Smythe or Dupont instead of Dupond.

"We were able to go through and trace them all. Last Tuesday we began calling the customers, making them aware, because some of them didn't notice the difference," said Bill Percival, director of operations for government security services at the bank.

He said he expected all the affected bond owners would be contacted by the end of the day today.

The glitch has now been fixed, he said. It was traced back to a new piece of computer software that was installed on Sept. 25. The software was created in-house, with help from Castek Software Company. Mr. Percival stressed that the error was not Castek's fault.

"They delivered the system. We from time to time go in and make changes, and that is what happened in this case."

The software was used to consolidate customers' accounts, so that bonds a customer bought this year would be added on to those they had purchased in previous years.

Mr. Percival said the mistake came to the attention of the bank on Oct. 8, when half a dozen customers called in, complaining they had received bonds with the right address, in the right amount, but with the wrong name.

Bank staff worked Thanksgiving weekend to trace all the people affected, fix the computer glitch, and make sure the bonds went back into the correct accounts. The bank advised affected customers to courier the bonds back to the bank c.o.d. The bank is now having corrected bonds printed.

"We're hoping to clean this whole thing up in two to four weeks at the latest," Mr. Percival said.

Mr. Percival said the mistake only affected federal government employees who bought 1998 (series 54) bonds through a payroll deduction plan. Some 55,000 public servants bought bonds by this method last year.

-- Homer Beanfang (, October 18, 1999

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