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QLD Debt Collectors Breaching Privacy - Claim Compensation?

Discussion in 'Debt and Bankruptcy Law Forum' started by mmrow, 26 September 2016.

  1. mmrow

    mmrow Member

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    I am overseas and had an unknown debt that was past onto a debt collector. The debt collectors kept calling my disabled mother about the debt. They then gave her all the private information regarding my debt, the amount owed, my personal details, details of the debt, etc.

    They then transferred the debt to her without my knowledge or consent. It is now in her name and the stress of her having to pay this debt with just a disability support pension has had her admitting into hospital for stress. I have only just found out about this.

    My question, is a debt collection agency able to give out all my personal details regarding a debt? Can I get compensation from this breach of privacy?
     
  2. Rod

    Rod Well-Known Member

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    Was the original debt with the Government or private business?
     
  3. mmrow

    mmrow Member

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    It was a government debt, but the debt collector is a private company. The issue is not the debt, I'm happy to pay. Just the breach of privacy and the stress my mother has occurred.

    Furthermore, the debt they have advised is a lot higher than the original debt.
     
  4. Rod

    Rod Well-Known Member

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    Unclear. I suspect so. While the debt company is a private company I suspect the government agency that gave the information to the debt collector can be held responsible for misuse of the data.

    I have no idea whether your individual circumstances fit into this category but the starting point is the Office of the Information Commissioner.
    Home - OAIC

    If a breach has occurred, then yes. Remedies are available if an unauthorised disclosure use has been made.

    Here are some case ruled on by the Privacy Commissioner as examples.

    On quickly reading a couple of sections of the Act, it may be possible to also go after the debt collection company. I'm not sure about this but you should ask the Office of the Information Commissioner about it.
     
  5. Tim W

    Tim W Lawyer

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    What kind?
    Infringement? Fine? Unpaid bill? HECS debt? Tax debt? Centrelink overpayment?
    Then just pay it and get on with your life.
    Going only by what you have said here,
    missing facts missing and unstated ifs, buts, and maybes, not allowed for,
    I see no basis for action here.
    Even if the kind of privacy right you claim to have been breached
    even existed, I do not see that you have suffered any kind of loss
    that could be remedied by damages.
     
  6. Rod

    Rod Well-Known Member

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    Tim,

    I thought as you did wrt damages until I looked at the cases in the link I provided.

    IY’ and Business Service Brokers Pty Ltd t/a TeleChoice [2016] AICmr 44 -> Plaintiff was awarded $3,500 in non-economic damages.

    The Privacy Act 1988 (Privacy Act) has more teeth than I expected and I think a few Tort text books need updating.

    Have a look at section 25 (1) Privacy Act 1988 (Cth). It is not a ORP test but a subjective test that includes damage to a person's feelings! "....compensate a person for loss or damage (including injury to the person's feelings or humiliation) suffered by the person...."
     
  7. Tim W

    Tim W Lawyer

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    I am familiar with those provisions.
    But I still don't see them enlivening here.
    For one thing, the Australian Information Commissioner is not a court,
    and its findings do not accrue into a body of precedent.

    Going only by what we have here, I am yet to be convinced
    that this anything other than a simple dispute about a debt assignment,
    and some sharp practice by the debt collector.
    That said, the latter may well be worth further examination,
    in the context of trade practices, rather than privacy per se.
     
  8. mmrow

    mmrow Member

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    It is a Centrelink debt that I was not aware of and as I am overseas, I did not receive any letters. This was passed onto a debt agency. They contacted my mother, gave her all the information of the debt, the amount, the reason and my Centrelink account information. This is my dispute, giving my debt information and my Centrelink account information.

    Also, I am happy to move on with my life, but they have hassled my mother. She has spent 80% of her pension over the last 2 months paying this off. She then missed one payment and they said that all payments are void and will have to start the debt off at the original amount again.

    The stress put her in hospital. This would not have happened if they did not give her my private information. I want at least a complaint against them and if they are resetting the debt to the original amount, happy to pay, but they can refund my mother.

    Do I have any grounds to at least get them to refund her if they are resetting the debt? She is a stroke victim, so does not fully understand her rights when be hassled on a daily basis by debt collectors
     

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