Files stolen from Allstate agent's car

September 23, 2006

By James Daw, Business Columnist

A sales agent has told Allstate Canada Inc. that files of 60 to 70 Toronto policyholders were stolen from his automobile.

The home and auto insurer, the slogan for which is "You're in good hands," said yesterday managers did not learn of the theft until 12 days after it occurred.

As an extra precaution, Allstate said, staff contacted or left messages for 107 of the agent's clients yesterday, more than the number of files reported missing. Allstate is hoping to avert any cases of actual identity theft in this latest breach of privacy at a major corporation. Policyholders were advised to consult their banks about how to protect themselves.

Allstate said Toronto police are investigating the Sept. 9 theft. The company, meanwhile, is trying to determine why managers did not hear sooner from the agent, who was working at home due to a medical condition.

"I want to offer our sincere apologies to the customers who have been impacted, and for any inconvenience this has caused," said Christianne Dostie, vice-president for the Allstate brand in Canada. "This is unacceptable, and we take this very seriously. This is an unusual situation."

Agents often carry two or three files when visiting clients, she said, but must keep other files locked in an office cabinet.Allstate had just completed an education program about the importance of protecting customer information.

The company has offered to reimburse clients who incur expenses changing chequing accounts or credit cards. These clients will also get free coverage for losses and expenses due to identity theft.

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