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Bank requested to correct personal information of customer

PIPEDA Case Summary #2003-133

[Principles 4.9 and 4.9.5 of Schedule 1]


An individual complained that a bank maintained incorrect personal information about him and refused to correct it when requested to do so.

Summary of Investigation

After receiving a copy of his credit report, the complainant contacted the bank to inform it that it had incorrectly recorded an outstanding debt, which had been referred to a collection agency. The individual argued that this debt should no longer be recorded on his credit file because, according to provincial legislation, unpaid debts are no longer recorded once a set number of years have passed since the last payment.

The bank indicated that the complainant had stopped making payments in 1993. The outstanding balance was referred to a collection agency, and written off as a bad debt in 1997. However, the bank admitted that the reporting on the loan should have been deleted from the credit bureaus records six years after the last activity on the loan, or 1999. The bank informed the Commissioner that it instructed the credit bureaus to amend their records and confirmed that they had done so.

Commissioner's Findings

Issued March 6, 2003

Jurisdiction: As of January 1, 2001, the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (the Act) applies to any federal work, undertaking, or business. The Commissioner had jurisdiction in this case because a 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. An individual shall be able to challenge the accuracy and completeness of the information and have it amended as appropriate. Principle 4.9.5 goes on to state that when an individual successfully demonstrates the inaccuracy or incompleteness of personal information, the organization shall amend the information as required. Depending upon the nature of the information challenged, amendment involves the correction, deletion, or addition of information. Where appropriate, the amended information shall be transmitted to third parties having access to the information in question.

The Commissioner noted that the complainant had exercised his right under Principle 4.9 to challenge the accuracy of his credit information. The bank admitted that its reporting was incorrect and took appropriate steps to revise the information and transmit the changes to interested third parties. The Commissioner was satisfied that the bank had acted in accordance with Principle 4.9.5.

He therefore concluded that the complaint was not well-founded.

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