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Bank loses customer's personal information

PIPEDA Case Summary #2001-11

[Principle 4.7, Schedule 1, and Section 12(2)]


A customer complained that a bank had failed to protect her personal information when documents containing her Social Insurance Number (SIN), name, address and unlisted telephone number were lost during a transfer between offices.

Summary of Investigation

Human Resources Development Canada had issued the complainant a new SIN after her discovery that her old one had been used fraudulently. She later completed forms that her bank required for updating her investment account information with the new SIN. She gave the completed forms to staff at a local branch office of the bank for transfer to the office of the subsidiary that manages the investment account. The documents were lost during the transfer.

Commissioner's Findings

Issued September 7, 2001

Jurisdiction: As of January 1, 2001, the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act applies to federal works, undertakings, or businesses. The Commissioner had jurisdiction in this case because banks are federal works, undertakings, or businesses as defined in the Act.

Application: Principle 4.7, Schedule 1, states that personal information must be protected by security safeguards appropriate to the sensitivity of the information. Section 12(2) states that the Commissioner may attempt to resolve complaints by means of dispute resolution mechanisms such as mediation and conciliation.

At the outset of the Commissioner's investigation, the parties indicated an interest in resolving the matter. Discussions ensued, and a settlement satisfactory to both parties eventually resulted. Furthermore, the Commissioner was satisfied that the bank in question had taken steps to ensure that appropriate safeguard policies, practices, and procedures were in place.

The Commissioner concluded therefore that the complaint was resolved and no further action necessary.

Further Considerations

Both the complainant and the bank expressed satisfaction with the role that the Commissioner's Office had assumed in settling this matter.

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