China regulators, police said to probe Qudian data leak

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(Bloomberg) -- Chinese regulators and police are investigating a potential leak of data from online lender Qudian Inc., according to people with knowledge of the matter.

Officials are probing allegations that data from more than a million students who are clients of Beijing-based Qudian was leaked and possibly sold online, said the people, who asked not to be named discussing private information. The investigation is ongoing and may not lead to any action against Qudian, the people said.

The probe’s initial findings show that at least part of the leaked data match information clients had provided to Qudian, the people said. Investigators are checking whether the data came from Qudian, if the company was aware of the breach, and whether it took necessary measures to ensure the safety of personal information it collects.

Qudian said it isn’t aware of the situation in an e-mailed reply to questions. The company added that it has always highly valued safeguarding customers’ personal information, and that it continues to improve its encryption and data security.

Two calls to the Ministry of Public Security went unanswered.

Qudian’s shares have slumped 33 percent since its initial public offering in New York in October, as China’s government moved to crack down on the mushrooming industry of online cash microlending. Such lenders typically offer quick, short-term unsecured loans that are used for consumption.

The Chinese company’s IPO prospectus didn’t mention any leaks of data containing customer information. Violations of protecting personal information carries possible penalties including shutdown of websites or cancellation of business licenses under China’s Cybersecurity Law.

--With assistance from Jun Luo and Ryan Lovdahl

Bloomberg News