better banking

Case - 50505

2016 - 2017

Lending

Property lending

Mr D applied for a joint home loan with his partner, Ms E. When the bank sent information to Ms E’s work email, Mr D called the bank and left a voice message asking that it send information containing anything personal about him directly to him, and not to Ms E, because her colleagues could access her emails.

Several weeks later, the bank emailed Ms E with queries about her financial position but also included some information about Mr D. When Mr D found out, he emailed the bank and repeated the request he had left in his voice message. The next day the bank emailed further information about Mr D to Ms E.

Mr D made a complaint, but the bank said it had been unable to substantiate an “interference with his privacy” because he could not prove Ms E’s colleague had seen his information. As gesture of goodwill, it offered him $500 compensation. Mr D declined the offer and brought his complaint to us.

Mr D rejected the offer because he wanted the bank to acknowledge it had breached his privacy. The bank insisted it had not. Based on the information Mr D had presented, we found the bank had breached two of the privacy principles in the Privacy Act 1993:

  • It should have recorded his request on file in order to prevent unauthorised disclosure of information.
  • It had no reasonable basis, following his request, to believe he authorised disclosure of his information to Ms E’s email address.

An interference with privacy occurs when privacy laws have been breached and harm has resulted.

We thought the bank’s offer of $500 compensation was an appropriate amount of compensation to recognise the alleged resulting harm to Mr D’s relationship with Ms E’s colleagues.  Having gained the acknowledgement he was seeking, Mr D accepted the offer.