Responding to privacy concerns

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It is vital to give your customers a single point of contact at your organization to deal with privacy issues. Many unhappy consumers have approached the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada upset that they could not find someone within a business who could answer their privacy questions.

No matter how hard you work at enhancing customer loyalty, there will be instances when your organization does not meet your customers’ expectations of privacy. The first step to ensuring customer satisfaction is to acknowledge privacy complaints promptly on receipt.

Give individuals access

Individuals have a right to know what kind of personal information you have about them. If you should receive a request, respond to the request as quickly as possible and no later than 30 days after receipt of the request. Explain how the information is or has been used and provide a list of any organizations to which the information has been disclosed. Give individuals access at minimal or no cost and make sure the requested information is understandable.

Provide recourse

Develop simple and easily accessible complaint procedures which inform complainants of their avenues of recourse. These include your organization's own complaint procedures, those of industry associations, regulatory bodies and the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada. Correct any inaccurate personal information or modify policies and procedures based on the outcome of the complaint, and ensure that staff in the organization are aware of any changes to these policies and procedures. Notify individuals of the outcome of investigations clearly and promptly, informing them of any relevant steps taken.

Educate your employees regularly

Your organization’s privacy policy is a critical tool to safeguard your customers’ personal information. It is your responsibility to ensure your employees are aware of your company’s policy and the circumstances under which they may and may not collect, use or disclose customer information—and that they understand the reasons for collecting information.

Handling a complaint fairly and appropriately may help to preserve or restore the individual's confidence in your organization and help you maintain a positive reputation among the public.

For more information, go to our Guide for Businesses and Organizations.

To access small business tools developed by the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, click on: http://www.priv.gc.ca/resource/sbw/2011/index_e.cfm

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