Co-operators urges Vigilance for life and pension customers; Call Centre Expanded

GUELPH, ON, Jan. 30, 2003 – Clients with individual life insurance policies and pension plans from Co-operators Life Insurance Company are being urged to be vigilant and watch for unusual activity in their banking, credit card and other transactions following the disappearance of a hard drive containing personal client information from a Regina contractor’s facility, Katherine Bardswick, The Co-operators President and Chief Executive Officer, said today.

Speaking at a news conference, Ms. Bardswick also encouraged her company’s pension and individual life clients to alert their financial institutions and credit reporting organizations to potential fraud involving their accounts.

“On behalf of The Co-operators Group of Companies, I sincerely apologize to our individual life and pension plan clients for any concern or inconvenience that this incident has caused them,” Ms. Bardswick said at the news conference. “I understand how our customers must feel; my personal
information was on that drive, too. I hold life insurance and have pension funds with The Co-operators.”

Ms. Bardswick stressed that only The Co-operators pension clients and individual life insurance policyholders are potentially at risk. Customers who own home, farm, commercial and auto policies from The Co-operators are not affected. Group employee benefit plan members also do not have information on ISM’s missing hard drive.

Co-operators Life was advised by Information Systems Management (ISM Canada) last week that a computer hard drive containing sensitive client information was reported missing from a secure area at its premises in Regina. ISM is a subsidiary of IBM Canada and a supplier of various computer services to Co-operators Life and other organizations. ISM is working closely with the Regina Police Service, Major Crimes Unit, and we are advised that an internal investigation is underway.

Upon being notified about the missing hard drive, The Co-operators immediately identified which clients were affected and ensured that they received accurate information. On January 27, the company mailed a letter to each potentially affected client, established a toll-free call centre to handle inquiries, and posted an information update on the corporate Web site (www.cooperators.ca).

The Co-operators is working closely with Canada’s credit reporting agencies, Equifax Canada and TransUnion, to assist clients who are considering placing a “potential fraud alert” on their credit files. Equifax Canada has put in place dedicated telephone lines (toll-free across Canada 800-314-5880 or in Montr´┐Żal dial 514-493-8367) to better serve affected Co-operators clients.

Pension plan and individual life insurance clients can phone The Co-operators at 1-800-604-0050 for further information.

GUELPH, ON, Jan. 31, 2003 – The Co-operators has expanded its Regina call centre’s hours of service and is increasing the number of incoming telephone lines to better address the concerns of its clients affected by the disappearance of a computer hard drive from a Regina data management firm’s offices, the insurance company announced today.

The call centre will now be open from 7:00 am to 7:00 pm Central Time (8:00 am to 8:00 pm Eastern Time) Monday to Friday. In addition, the call centre will now remain open on Saturday (7:00 am to 12:00 pm Central Time).

The call centre’s toll-free phone number is 800-604-0050.

“The increased volume of calls from concerned clients prompted us to increase the service levels at the call centre,” said The Co-operators President Katherine Bardswick. “The number of calls at the Regina call centre, which was set up to deal specifically with this situation, has increased from 50 calls on Monday to 900 calls yesterday, when the letters began arriving. We greatly appreciate the understanding our clients have shown.”

The company reminds clients that auto, home, farm, commercial polices and group benefits are not affected.

The company also released the provincial breakdown of potentially affected clients. Letters were sent to pension fund and individual life customers as follows:

Information Advisory Letters sent by province – January 27, 2003

    Province                   Total
    Ontario                   95,078

    Alberta                   28,385
    Saskatchewan              15,408
    New Brunswick             10,084
    Nova Scotia                8,200
    British Columbia           6,083
    Newfoundland               4,809
    Manitoba                   3,343
    Prince Edward Island       2,107
    Quebec                     1,114
    Yukon                        292
    Northwest Territories        251
    Fed/Out of Canada          1,017
    Total                    176,171