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Source: Toronto Star

Posted on January 18, 2007

      A backup computer file went missing somewhere between Montreal and Toronto containing private information about nearly half a million current and former customers of a CIBC mutual fund subsidiary, the bank said today.

      Details may have included names, addresses, signatures, birthdays, bank account numbers, beneficiary information and social insurance numbers, Talvest Mutual Funds said.

      The computer file went missing while in transit between Montreal and Toronto, and police in both cities are investigating, said Rob McLeod, spokesman for the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce.

      Letters are now going out to notify the customers, he said.

      There is no evidence thus far to suggest that the backup file has been inappropriately accessed, the bank said, adding that it will compensate any affected Talvest clients for monetary losses that arise as a result.

      Canada's privacy commissioner, Jennifer Stoddart, had already been notified and said today she is launching an investigation into the breach.

      "Although I appreciate that the bank notified us of this incident and that it is working cooperatively with my office, I am nevertheless deeply troubled, especially given the magnitude of this breach, which puts at risk the personal information of hundreds of thousands of Canadians," she said in a press release.

      "My office is committed to carrying out a thorough investigation into this matter and to ensuring that preventative and corrective measures are put in place so that this does not reoccur."

      This is not the first privacy breach for CIBC.

      In 2004, the bank admitted that for three years it had sent confidential client RSP information to the owner of a West Virginia scrapyard by accident. At that time, CIBC took the unusual step of announcing it would suspend all faxes from its branches and would instead use courier services to transmit customer data.

      Today's revelation also comes on the heels of news yesterday that hackers got into the computer systems of TJX Cos., the U.S. parent of Canadian retailers Winners and HomeSense, and stole customer information.

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