03/22/2018 16:41 EDT | Updated 03/23/2018 09:21 EDT

PC Optimum Members Say Their Points Were Stolen

Loblaw said it's committed to "helping each and every person to safeguard their account and reinstate their points."

HuffPost Canada
PC Optimum cards are seen in a photo.

As if the rollout of Loblaw's new PC Optimum program hasn't been bumpy enough, members have reported that their accounts were hacked and points stolen.

Shannon Cote, who lives in Guelph, Ont. had 90,000 PC Optimum points (which are worth $90 in the program) stolen after she was switched to the new program, she told HuffPost Canada.

The red flags started in February, when she made a purchase at Shoppers Drug Mart self-checkout. When she picked the option to email herself her receipt, an address appeared for a stranger named Henri. Then when she tried to use her card at a Zehr's, she received an error message.

On Feb. 21, she called PC Optimum, and was told that there were two other people linked to her account, Henri and David, who had been collecting and using her points. A rep had also told her that the same person who accessed her account had also accessed 84 others.

She was told that the issue would be investigated and she would receive a call in the next few days. But despite several attempts to follow up over Twitter and email, she heard nothing until this week — and more points were stolen after she reported the problem.

Cote sent a screenshot of her app to HuffPost Canada, which shows that "Peter's Phone" had made several purchases throughout March, including one on March 3 in which they redeemed 70,000 points.

Shannon Cote

Cote said she also received an email confirming that a "Peter" had been added to her PC Optimum "household," a program option that allows several people to pool their points, but she said she never added this person.

According to Cote, a PC Optimum rep said that someone must have accessed her Gmail account. Cote said she has no idea how that could happen, since in order to log in, she has to enter a security verification code that's pushed to her cell phone.

She said she was told that there was a dip in security related to the PC Plus cards during the PC Plus and Shoppers Optimum merger.

"It's just really concerning that so many people were affected," Cote told HuffPost.

Loblaw admits 'unacceptable delays' in dealing with security issues

Loblaw told HuffPost Canada in an emailed statement that it takes any sign of "unusual activity very seriously."

"Recently, we halted a very small portion of our members' individual accounts and asked them to reset their passwords," said Catherine Thomas, senior director of external communication.

Cote spoke with a rep Thursday who reassured her that her case would be resolved, but didn't give a timeline. After HuffPost Canada reached out to Loblaw about Cote's case, she received an email from PC Optimum. Her old cards have now been deactivated and a new card number issued, she said.

Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press
A Loblaws store is seen March 9, 2015 in Montreal.

Cote has her stolen points back, along with the ones she should have earned from recent purchases, existing ones from her PC Plus account, which never transferred properly, and a bonus 50,000. ​​

Several customers with similar experiences who spoke to CBC News also had their points restored, the broadcaster reported Thursday.

Thomas said she knows some members are frustrated with the "longer-than-normal" amount of time the company has taken to deal with security issues.

"A few have faced unacceptable delays," she said. "Our team is committed to helping each and every person to safeguard their account and reinstate their points."

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