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Privacy for agencies

There's never any guarantee that you can avoid complaints in any aspect of your business. Privacy is no exception. But you can take some simple steps to reduce the risk of complaints, and make your customers happier at the same time.

  • Be open about the purpose for which you are getting information. You should do this both for customers/clients and for employees. Then they won't be taken by surprise when you use the information. 
  • Also tell people if you're going to pass the information on to anyone else (and maybe tell them why this is necessary). Again, this means they won't be taken by surprise, and they're less likely to object. You should do this when you collect the personal information. 
  • If someone asks for access to their personal information, give it to them promptly, unless a good reason exists to not release the information. The only good reasons not to release are those withholding grounds set out in sections 27, 28 and 29 of the Act. You may be able to withhold it in certain situations. 
  • Don't collect more information than is necessary for that purpose. Information is costly to store. The more you have, the more you have to keep up to date. And the more you have, the more likely mistakes are to happen. 
  • Don't use the information for other purposes, it annoys people. 
  • Make sure that the information is stored securely. If it is obviously sensitive information, make doubly sure that unauthorised people can't get access to it. A lot of damage can be done by sensitive information getting into the wrong hands. 
  • Have a plan in place to check that information is correct before using it. People are quick to complain if they think that you've used wrong information. If a person thinks the information is wrong and you don't, put their letter, or record their views, on the file. This way, at least their view is taken into account. 
  • Read through the Getting started section to help you get it right and avoid complaints.