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Privacy – Can you use information about your clients?

In this age of respecting the privacy of others, care must be taken when collecting and holding information about your clients. The law about this topic is found in the Privacy Act 1993. The Act has a number of privacy principles that must be complied with. The Privacy Act 1993 controls how ‘personal information’, information about identifiable, living people is collected, used, disclosed, stored and given access to. At the heart of the Privacy Act are twelve privacy principles which set out the law. 

These are:

Principles 1-4     Collection of personal information
Principles 5         Storage and security
Principles 6,7      Requests for access to information and corrections to information
Principle 8           Accuracy of information
Principle 9           Retention of information
Principles 10,11  Use and disclosure of information
Principle 12        Using unique identifiers (where an identifying label is used)

The office of the Privacy Commissioner is an independent Crown Entity, funded by, but independent of government or ministerial control. The privacy commissioner has a number of responsibilities, one of these is investigating complaints about interference with privacy. Interference can occur where an agency wrongfully refuses to give or correct information or where an individual suffers harm as a result of a breach of the law.A breach of the law can have severe consequences. One example that occurred is where the internet service provider Orcon was ordered by the Human Rights Review Tribunal to pay $25,000 to one of its customers.What happened in this case was that Orcon sent a debt it said it was owed to Baycorp which listed details of the customer and the debt with Veda Advantage. The debt however, was a disputed debt.The customer suffered harm as a result. An application for a loan was declined and the customer was unable to obtain rental accommodation. The customer complained to the Privacy Commissioner which brought the case claiming that Orcon had breached requirements to ensure the information was accurate. That breach caused the customer harm and Orcon was fined accordingly. An expensive exercise and one which was easily avoided with proper recording of credit defaults.CollectIT records defaulting debtors with Veda on behalf of our clients which can be a very effective way of getting paid by affecting the debtors’ credit rating. Accuracy is paramount when loading debtors to affect their credit rating. At CollectIT debtors are only loaded after following our process of thorough consultation and discussion with our clients as well as often having already carried out debtor management work on the debt.If you would like to discuss any of your defaulting debtors and how to move forward with them, call CollectIT today on 07 834 9111 or email on info@collectit.co.nz