Case study: Privacy

Carla was a joint account holder of a credit card debt assigned to a debt purchaser. Carla and the second joint account holder were separated.

Carla was in frequent contact with the debt purchaser regarding repayment negotiations. However the second joint account holder refused to: 

  • cooperate in repayment negotiations with the debt purchaser,
  • provide the debt purchaser with a statement of financial position.

The debt purchaser contacted Carla’s payroll office.

Carla complained that her privacy was breached when the debt purchaser contacted her payroll office without her consent.

The debt purchaser stated that the call was made:

  • because the second joint account holder refused to provide a statement of financial position, and
  • for the purposes of beginning legal action and verifying that Carla was still employed.

We considered that the second joint account holder’s refusal to provide a statement of financial position was not valid grounds for the debt purchaser to call Carla’s payroll office.

The debt purchaser did not directly request Carla to provide her personal information. Furthermore, Carla did not consent to, nor was she advised of, the debt purchaser contacting her payroll office for the purpose of collecting her personal information.

We concluded that the debt purchaser breached Australian Privacy Principle (APP) 3.6 and recommended that they pay $250 in compensation to Carla. The debt purchaser agreed to this outcome.