11/18/2016 14:44 EST | Updated 11/19/2017 00:12 EST

Personal information on 86 Albertans getting social support lost for 24 hours

EDMONTON — Alberta Human Services says personal information of 86 people getting income support was unaccountable for a 24-hour period.

The department says it is contacting the affected people and the Information and Privacy Commissioner has been consulted and agrees with this approach.

It says a group of new Alberta Supports staff being trained was given snapshots of client information databases on USB sticks that included names, contact information, birth dates, social insurance numbers, banking and financial information.

All USB sticks were in the possession of current government staff, with one exception, and that was with a former staff member.

It was located and returned the next day and now all 79 USB sticks have been accounted for and information has been deleted.

Clients were contacted Friday and were encouraged to contact their financial institutions, monitor their financial transactions and mail, obtain a free statement of benefits paid from Alberta Health Services, and contact a credit reporting agency.

As a precaution, Human Services is offering to cover the costs of credit monitoring services.

"I am deeply concerned by this potential privacy breach resulting from a lapse in training practices. I want to assure all Albertans that we will work with them to address any potential concerns this may cause and we will be revisiting our practices to ensure this doesn't happen again," said Human Services Minister Irfan Sabir.