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Call from unknown financial institution raises individual’s concern about the disclosure and use of his personal information

Early resolved case summary #7

Lessons Learned

  • Organizations must document the purposes for which personal information is collected. They should also be able to explain to individuals the purposes for which information is collected.
  • Organizations are encouraged to indicate the source of the personal information they hold about an individual.

Complaint summary

A man received an unexpected phone call from a woman asking to speak with someone who had a name similar to his. As the call had been made to his unlisted phone line, he tried to learn how the caller had obtained his number.

He pursued his inquiry by phoning the caller back, at which point he learned that she had called from a collection agency, located in another province, attempting to collect a debt. In speaking with representatives from the organization, the man was left unsatisfied as to how the organization had obtained his unlisted phone number - even after speaking with that organization’s privacy officer.

He then complained to our Office, alleging that a certain credit reporting agency had a history of inappropriately using his confidential information. As a result, he suspected the credit reporting agency of leaking his confidential information in this instance.


Our Office confirmed that the credit reporting agency with which the man had had dealings with in the past did not have his unlisted number in its files.

Rather, our inquiries revealed that in attempting to locate a particular debtor, the collection agency used the directory service and gleaned contact information for individuals with the same last name as this debtor. One person contacted was the man’s mother, who gave out his unlisted phone number.

The man considered our explanation entirely plausible and he was reassured that his personal information had been removed from the collection agency’s system. Since the man was satisfied with the actions taken, we closed the complaint.

August 2014

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