A debt collection agency had been attempting to contact a woman at her workplace.
When it was unable to speak to her, it left a message with a workmate asking for the woman to contact it and provided its name and contact number for this purpose.
This information was then put on a note and placed on a notice board where other staff members could read it.
The woman contacted the agency to raise concerns about the information it had disclosed to her workmate, but was unable to resolve the matter.
Under principle 11 an agency which holds personal information must not disclose that information unless it believes, on reasonable grounds, that one of the exceptions set out under principle 11 applies.
We notified the agency of the complaint. It advised that it did not believe it had disclosed any personal information about the individual involved, as it did not discuss the nature of the call, any financial details, nor any previous history during the conversation with the workmate.
However, we considered that even disclosing the name of the agency in relation to its dealings with the woman constituted personal information about her.
This was on the basis that the name of the agency could easily be associated with debt collection services. It was clear from the information provided by the woman that her workmates had made this association in this case.
Based on this view, the agency accepted that it had disclosed personal information about the woman. As a result it was willing to accept the modest settlement proposal put forward by her.
The agency reminded its employees that they should make sure they were speaking to the person they were trying to contact before using the company's name.
The woman was satisfied with the actions taken by the agency and we closed our file.
Disclosure of personal information - debt collection agency - settlement - Privacy Act 1993; principle 11