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No apparent cause for concern in loss of First Niagara Bank data tapes

More than eight months after computer backup tapes with shareholder data was lost by a courier service in New Jersey, officials at First Niagara Financial Group and the New York bank it hired to maintain shareholder records say there's no evidence that the information has been misused.

First Niagara spokeswoman Leslie Garrity said the Lockport-based savings bank has been "monitoring the situation closely" since it was notified in late February that backup data storage tapes were found to be missing from third-party couriers.

The couriers worked for BNY Mellon Shareowner Services, a third-party "transfer agent" owned by Bank of New York Mellon that maintains records and processes mailings for many public companies. First Niagara had used Pittsburgh-based Mellon Financial Corp., which Bank of New York acquired, as its transfer agent until August 2007.

"Many public companies were affected," Garrity said by e-mail. "Mellon took the incident very seriously and immediately began notifying anyone who might have been affected, including [First Niagara] shareholders, shortly after the incident occurred."

Garrity stressed that First Niagara shareholders were contacted directly months ago, and also said the missing tapes do not contain any customer or employee information.

"BNY Mellon continues to tell us that there are no indications that First Niagara shareholder data has been accessed or misused in any way," she said.

BNY Mellon has set up a Web site, at www.bnymellon.com/tapequery, and a toll-free phone number, (877) 289-0136, to answer questions from shareholders.

e-mail: jepstein@buffnews.com

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