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Privacy Law and Policy Reporter (PLPR)
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Greenleaf, Graham --- "Credit Reference Agencies and disputed debts" [1994] PrivLawPRpr 52; (1994) 1(4) Privacy Law & Policy Reporter 70

Credit Reference Agencies and disputed debts - NZ Privacy Commissioner

New Zealand Privacy Commissioner, Case Note 045W, April 1994

Privacy Act 1993 (NZ) - IPP 7 (correction)

The complainant alleged that a credit reference agency was in breach of IPP 7 in refusing to correct a default listing from a bank concerning him. He disputed that he had defaulted on a debt to the bank, claiming it had been assigned to a company. IPP 7 requires agencies holding personal information to ''take such steps (if any) to correct that information as are, in the circumstances, reasonable to ensure that having regard to the purposes for which the information may lawfully be used, the information is accurate, up to date, complete and not misleading.'

The Commissioner held that the credit reference agency had taken reasonable steps when it contacted the bank to confirm that it claimed that the debt was in default. The agency could not be expected to investigate whether the bank or the complainant's version was correct. The Commissioner could not investigate the conduct of the bank in reporting the default, as this occurred before 1 July 1993. The Commissioner also held that the agency had complied with its further obligation under IPP 7 to add a notation to the file by adding a notation that the complainant disputed the debt. New Zealand Privacy Commissioner, Case Note 061W (April 1994) Privacy Act 1993 (NZ) - IPP 7 (correction) - s38, s44 (failure to advise of right to add statement)

The substance and decision in this complaint was the same as that in Case Note 045W above. The Commissioner also decided that the credit reference agency's obligation to provide reasonable assistance to individuals making information privacy requests did not extend to advising the individual of a right to have a statement attached to a file when a request is refused. s44, which deals with refused requests, imposes no such obligation

Graham Greenleaf


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