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IBM Loses Insurer's Data

IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM) suffered a blow to its Enterprise On-Demand computing initiative Thursday when it was forced to notify Co-operators Life Insurance Co., one of Canada's largest insurance companies, that it had lost a hard drive containing the financial details of potentially as many as 180,000 clients.

Co-operators Life Insurance, which is based in Guelph, Ontario, was notified by IBMs Information Systems Management unit, a wholly owned subsidiary of IBM Canada Ltd. and part of IBM Global Services, on Jan. 23 that the hard drive was missing from a secure area at its premises in Regina, Saskatchewan.

IBM representatives did not return calls requesting comment. Kathy Bardswick, president and CEO of Co-operators, held a conference call with the media this morning to discuss the threat to its customers.

The missing data includes names, addresses, bank account details, beneficiaries, social insurance numbers, pension values, pre-authorized checking information, and mothers’ maiden names of Co-operators Life and Pension scheme customers. The company's automotive, home, farm, and commercial insurance customers have not been affected, Bardswick said.

The major concern here is identity theft -- when someone maxes out credit cards and runs up debts in someone else's name -- which is the largest white-collar crime in America today, according to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Last week the FTC announced that the number of identity theft complaints has doubled, to 160,000, in the past year.

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