You can complain if your personal information is being revealed without your agreement or if an organisation refuses to let you see information about you.
If you think your privacy has been breached call the Privacy Commissioner enquiries line on 0800 803 909
When you can complain
You can complain when:
- you've been asked for and given information that you think isn’t appropriate or necessary
- you’re concerned about how your information is stored
- your personal information has been revealed to someone else
- an organisation won't release information it has about you
- an organisation is holding information about you that's wrong and they won't change it
- your personal details (eg IRD number, passport details) have been shared with another organisation without your consent.
What do you want to happen?
Before you complain to an organisation or the Privacy Commissioner you need to work out how you want your complaint resolved. You can ask for:
- an apology
- a guarantee that the same thing won’t happen again
- financial compensation.
How to complain
Contact the organisation first
If you contact the organisation by phone make sure you take a note of:
- when you called
- who you spoke to
- what you discussed
- the response you got.
You can also record the call for your records but you should let them know you're recording it.
If you write or email, keep copies.
If you’re not happy with the organisation’s response
If you’re not happy about the response you can make a formal complaint to the Privacy Commissioner.
It’s free to complain.
How to complain to the Privacy Commissioner
- Complete a privacy complaint form
- Send the form to:
Office of the Privacy Commissioner
PO Box 10094, Wellington
or email the form to: email@example.com
What the Privacy Commissioner will do
The Privacy Commissioner will decide if they think your privacy has been breached.
If they think a breach has occurred they may try to settle it.
If that doesn’t work they’ll carry out a formal investigation. They’ll keep everyone informed of how the investigation is going and allow you to respond.
They’ll then issue their opinion. This opinion isn’t legally binding but is usually taken seriously.
If your complaint can’t be resolved
If the Privacy Commissioner has found that your privacy has been breached but can’t resolve the issue, they can refer it to the Director of Human Rights Proceedings in the Human Rights Commission. The Director can decide to take the matter to the Human Rights Review Tribunal on your behalf.
If the Privacy Commissioner doesn’t think your privacy has been breached you can still take your complaint to the Human Rights Review Tribunal.
You can get free independent advice from:
Community law centres offer free legal information and advice to people who can't afford to see a lawyer privately.
If you're eligible, they may also be able to:
- offer ongoing legal assistance
- help you with mediation
- represent you at tribunals or in court.
Free advice about just about anything — in your local area and in your own language.
Free online information about areas of law where people often have problems — eg consumer issues, housing, jobs, families, money, crime and police.
Specialises in health and medical complaints.