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Bank accused of withholding loan information

PIPEDA Case Summary #2002-29

[Sections 8(3) and 8(5)]


An individual complained that a bank had denied him access to his personal information regarding a loan application.

Summary of Investigation

The complainant and two others had been involved in a dispute with the bank over a loan granted to the complainant. One contention in the dispute was that the bank had consistently refused to provide these three persons with copies of documentation that might have supported their position. The complainant himself first requested access to information related to his loan application in June 2001. After almost a month, the bank responded with a notification that there would be reproduction costs of 25 cents per page. Five days later, the complainant sent the bank another letter, enclosing a cheque to cover the reproduction costs. After a further three weeks, still not having received his requested information, the complainant filed his complaint with the Office of the Privacy Commissioner.

In August 2001, 73 days after submitting his request, the complainant received his requested information from the bank. He was satisfied that he had received all the information he had requested, and he considered the matter resolved.

Commissioner's Findings

Issued January 7, 2002

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

Application: Section 8(3) of the Act states that an organization must respond to a request no later than 30 days of receipt. Section 8(5) states that an organization failing to meet the time limit is deemed to have refused the request.

The Commissioner noted that, even allowing a five-day suspension for consideration of the reproduction costs, the bank had exceeded the prescribed 30-day time limit by 38 days. He found that the bank was clearly in contravention of sections 8(3) and 8(5).

However, he was also mindful that the bank had subsequently provided the requested information and that the complainant was satisfied with the outcome of the case.

The Commissioner concluded therefore that the complaint was well-founded and resolved.

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