Customer questions credit rating assigned by bank

PIPEDA Case Summary #2002-85

[Principles 4.9, 4.9.5, Schedule 1]

Complaint

An individual complained that a bank failed to correct personal information, specifically the rating reported on his credit bureau record.

Summary of Investigation

In 1991, the complainant obtained a loan from the bank for the purposes of purchasing an automobile. He believed that he had paid the final instalment on his loan in 1996. However, when he applied for a subsequent loan in 1998, the bank informed him that he had a credit rating of "9" on his credit bureau record. Such a rating means that a loan is classified as a "bad debt - referred for collection".

After discussions with the bank, the complainant believed that the 9 rating would be removed from his credit record the following month - seven years after he had obtained the loan.

In August 2001, the complainant's request for a subsequent loan was denied on the basis that the 9 rating was still being reported.

It is industry practice to report the credit status of a loan for seven years after the last activity on a loan, not from the date when the loan payments began. Since the last activity on the complainant's loan was in December 1996, the reporting of its status would ordinarily cease in December 2003.

Commissioner's Findings

Issued October 22, 2002

Jurisdiction: As of January 1, 2001, PIPEDA applies to any federal work, undertaking, or business. The Commissioner has jurisdiction in this case because the bank is a federal work, undertaking, or business, as defined in the Act.

Application: Principle 4.9 states that upon request, an individual shall be informed of the existence, use and disclosure of his or her personal information and shall be given access to that information; and that the individual shall be able to challenge the accuracy and completeness of personal information and have it amended as appropriate. Principle 4.9.5 states that when an individual successfully demonstrates the inaccuracy or incompleteness of personal information, the organization shall amend the information as required.

The Commissioner determined that the complainant was able to challenge the accuracy of his personal information, as required by Principle 4.9. At that time, the amendment of his personal information was not required according to Principle 4.9.5 since the personal information on his credit bureau report was accurate.

The Commissioner was satisfied that the bank had in fact been correctly reporting the complainant's personal information. Therefore, he did not find the bank to be in contravention of Principles 4.9 and 4.9.5 of Schedule 1 to the Act.

The Commissioner therefore concluded that the complaint against the bank was not well-founded.

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