Privacy case note #1, 2021: Agency discloses information about debt to estranged family member

The complainant alleged that an agency disclosed information about a debt he owed to the agency to an estranged family member. The complainant further alleged that because the agency accepted payment of the debt from the family member, he considered himself indebted to his estranged family member.

The agency confirmed that the call centre operator had not applied the agency’s policy about communication with third parties correctly, which resulted in the ‘over-sharing’ of the complainant’s personal information with the family member.

Privacy principles

The complaint raised issues under Information Privacy Principles (IPP) 10 and 11.

IPP 10 says that an agency must not use personal information for a purpose other than that for which it was collected.

IPP 11 requires the agency not to disclose information, unless it believes one of the exceptions supplied in IPP 11 applies.


The agency agreed to the complainant’s request to refund the money paid by the family member and offered him an apology. The complainant remained dissatisfied, stating that the disclosure had aggravated family relationships, and caused detriment to his living arrangements and financial stability.

The complaint resolved when the agency, in addition to steps already taken, agreed to pay the complainant compensation of $1000.