Privacy & Personal Information

Our posts this week relate to privacy as it is privacy awareness week. Service providers request a lot of information these days.  Banks are required by the regulator to collect information to verify your identity. Banks fall within the scope of the Privacy Act and are bound by the Australian Privacy Principles (APPs) which set the basic standard for privacy protection and stipulate how organisations can collect, use and disclose personal information.

If an organisation receives personal information they shouldn’t have, they should destroy or de-identify it.

Remember that information can only be collected if it is

  • Reasonably necessary for the purpose;
  • is collected by fair & legal means;
  • where possible, collected directly from the individual;
  • if sensitive collected with consent.

It is not uncommon for banks and other service providers to contact you to ask if you are happy with their products & services – often a bank may ask whether you would be interested in superannuation, insurance, wealth management or financial planning services.

Often a financial planner will suggest that you make a Will.

In fact if you look at a banks website and click on their privacy policy they probably have a statement that

“We collect personal information about you so that we can perform our business activities and functions and to provide best possible quality of customer service.”

You probably notice that it is suitably vague – if challenged they can say:

“We clearly thought that the provision of information about financial planning was the best possible quality of customer service”

As marketing adapts to maximise the return for an organisation from information collected  from different sources – including information published on social media platforms & blogs – the obligation to ensure compliance with the APPs is in the hands of the collecting party in this case the bank .

Importantly there is no clear understanding as to what constitutes unsolicited information. In fact it would seem that unsolicited information, wherever it’s obtained  can be ‘collected’.

Marketing companies can obtain information through various sources (that does not by itself identify a specific individual) that allows them to build a profile. In some circumstances people have been contacted and asked to make a will leaving money to a charity because they have regularly attended fund raising events.

Therefore it is important that you remain aware that the information that you provide  on social media sites (for example) could be used by organisations in order to market products and services to you, so:

  • be aware of the social media sites privacy policies;
  • choose the privacy settings that best suit your needs.
  • think about the information you post before you share.

your over-sharing, or posts shared without your consent, can lead to personal and professional reputational damage, identity fraud or both.

If you were to decide to make a Will based upon a charity cold calling you remember – a Will is a planning document that stipulates how you would like your estate distributed at the time you have it made. Like all plans it should be updated regularly as your needs and circumstances change. If you want to leave a large gift to charity that’s perfectly acceptable however if you change your mind about that situation change your Will.



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