Q and Financial Institution [2011] AICmrCN 11 (22 December 2011); Privacy Commissioner Determination

March 14, 2012 |

In  Q and Financial Institution [2011] AICmrCN 11, the Privacy Commissioner considered the operation of the NPP 2.1.

FACTS

The complainant contracted with a buyer to sell his car, which was under finance to a financial institution. The financial institution advised a prospective buyer of his car that it had been under finance but the account had recently been paid in full and later wrote to  a letter confirming that it had received funds to finalise the account and, subject to the clearance of these funds, it would release its security interest in the vehicle in ten working days.

The financial institution denied disclosing the complainant’s personal information because the letter it sent to the prospective buyer only contained details about the complainant’s vehicle and did not mention the complainant’s name or account number.

DECISION

The Commissioner considered the particular circumstances in which the financial institution sent the letter to the prospective buyer and found that it did not contain the complainant’s name, address or date of birth but  did contain information about the status of the complainant’s account with the financial institution, and specifically, that funds had been received to finalise the account and the financial institution’s security interest in the car.

The Commissioner formed the view that, in the circumstances, the prospective buyer could have reasonably ascertained that the details in the letter related to the complainant’s account with the financial institution. On that basis, the information contained in the letter was personal information about the complainant and, as such, the financial institution had not complied with NPP 2 as it disclosed personal information about the complainant to the prospective buyer.

The financial institution did not agree with the Commissioner’s findings but it immediately ceased its practice of sending such letters to third parties without the written consent of the account holder. It agreed to conciliate the matter under section 27(1)(ab) and apologised and offered a goodwill payment.

 

 

 

 

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