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Shoppers warned after PC Plus accounts breached

CityNews | posted Wednesday, Feb 8th, 2017

Shoppers are being warned to get smart with their online presence after several people were scammed out of their President’s Choice Plus Points.

Deanne Sharpe said she went to a London Superstore on Saturday, only to be told 110,000 points were gone from her account.

Sharpe told the cashier “No that can’t be right … the last time I checked before I came here it was 124 (thousand points), plus what I earned today.”

Sharpe then called customer service and after spending 45 minutes on hold, was told her points had been spent at a store Quebec. Sharp said she’s never been to Quebec.

A number of viewers and readers have reached out to CityNews with similar stories, including Vishal Gupta.

“I went to Fortinos to grab some lunch,” Gupta explained. “When I went to pay, I realized that the points balance on my receipt was about 100,000 lower than it should have been.”

President’s Choice Plus Points can be used to buy food and other merchandise at stores within the Loblaw Companies Limited chain.

The company has declined several interview requests from CityNews on this issue but, in a written statement, drew attention to data breaches at other large companies.

“There have been a number of high-profile privacy breaches recently, most notably Yahoo and LinkedIn, where large numbers of usernames and passwords were accessed,” Kevin Groh, Loblaw vice president Corporate Affairs and Communications, wrote.

“If someone uses a favourite username and password for multiple sites and one of those sites is exposed, their other accounts can be exposed too.”

The company recently sent an email to PC Club members, urging them to update their passwords on a regular basis.

Daniel Tobok, CEO of cyber-security company Cytelligence, said thieves don’t need to gather all your information from one place. Instead, they can pull your profile from snippets of information throughout the web.

“The bad guys actually are extremely organized and they do have file systems for information that they take and breach,” Tobok warned. “You have to be diligent. You do have to have a sense of security in terms of OK is this a smart thing that I’m doing. Am I publishing my information out there too much?”

Loblaw said it will reimburse customers who have had their points stolen.

Toronto police said their Financial Crimes Unit has received no complaints but urged people to come forward if they have been scammed.

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