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New privacy code boosts NZers' rights

Thursday 9 December

New credit reporting privacy code boosts NZers' rights

A new credit reporting privacy code will give New Zealanders free access to their own credit reports and strengthen their credit check rights, Privacy Commissioner Marie Shroff said today.

"Credit reporting raises many privacy issues," she said. "It involves pooling financial and other data on individuals into huge databases that are accessed by thousands of people. Inaccuracies can really harm people."

"The new Credit Reporting Privacy Code sets out to build greater transparency, accuracy and fairness, and this will help both individuals and businesses."

"Accuracy is particularly important," Mrs Shroff said. "Reliability of information is vital for the people credit reports are written about and also those who buy the reports."

Key features of the new code include:

* free access by individuals to their own credit reports from 1 April next year; * steps to ensure people know what happens to their personal information when they apply for a loan or make a credit purchase; * a plain language summary of rights; * obligations on credit reporters to maintain high standards in all aspects of their work; * Improving standards of reporting accuracy through: o requiring businesses supplying information for credit reports to ensure it is accurate and updated as necessary; o requiring credit reporters to maintain an audit programme that may make subscribers subject to spot checks on the reliability of information they have supplied; o requiring credit reporters to flag disputed records while they are being checked; o requirements to ensure that information on one individual is not wrongly attributed to another.

Mrs Shroff said the new code struck a careful balance between consumer privacy and business needs.

"We developed the code over several years and after a very intensive consultation process that included a large number of submissions from the industry and the public."

"I believe the Credit Reporting Privacy Code will bring about an orderly, fair, transparent and accurate credit reporting system," Mrs Shroff said. "My colleagues and I will keep it under careful review and we welcome comments at any time."


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