Auto dealership addresses customer’s concerns over safeguarding of his personal information

Early resolved case summary #6

Lessons Learned

  • Personal information shall not be used or disclosed for purposes other than those for which it was collected, except with the consent of the individual or as required by law.
  • Personal information shall be protected by security safeguards appropriate to the sensitivity of the information.
  • The security safeguards shall protect personal information against loss or theft, as well as unauthorized access, disclosure, copying, use or modification.

Complaint summary

An individual leased an automobile from a dealership. Approximately two years later, he was surprised when he began receiving emails from the sales representative who had handled the transaction. The representative was notifying the individual of the representative’s new place of employment and offered his services again in the retail automotive business. The individual believed that the dealership was not properly safeguarding his personal information and was contravening its own privacy policy. He was concerned that the former salesperson also had obtained his banking and credit information as well as his social insurance number.

In addition, the individual alleged that he was receiving unsolicited emails, as well as sales phone calls and letter mail, from the dealership itself each time his vehicle had been at the dealership for service and he had completed a customer survey.

The dealership’s general manager apologized for the continued correspondence and phone calls, stating that they were only intended to maintain communication with customers. The individual’s contact information was then removed from the dealership’s database.

The general manager informed that the sales representative may have taken the individual’s personal email address from a copy of the sales agreement. The dealership’s lawyer then contacted the former salesperson, who claimed he had used contact information from his personal notes to contact the individual, not information taken from the sales agreement. The former employee was then asked to return any dealership property and to refrain from contacting the individual.

As the general manager eventually stopped communicating with him to keep him updated about the dealership’s efforts to address his concerns, the individual contacted our Office to file a complaint.

Outcome

Our Office contacted the former salesperson and he admitted taking only the individual’s email address from his former employer. He said he had no intention to stop this practice, as it was a common one in the industry and he had been doing it for 30 years.

The former salesperson denied having any of the individual’s financial information. The dealership’s new general manager also confirmed to us that a customer’s financial information, in the form of a cheque, was only seen by the finance manager and general manager, and that the information was locked in a cabinet accessible only to those two managers.

The individual was then satisfied that the former salesperson did not possess any more of his personal information, and he closed his complaint.

As no further action was necessary, the file was deemed early resolved.

June 2014

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