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Question 3

Did you become aware of the act or practice you are complaining about within the last twelve months?

Example 1: You just applied for a loan and were declined credit. The credit provider advised you to check your consumer credit information file. On obtaining your credit file you realise for the first time that there has been a default on your file for the last 3 years listed by a credit provider you have never had any dealings with. In this instance, the Commissioner may be able to assist, if you write to the Commissioner within 12 months of finding out about the default listing.

Example 2: You complain to the Commissioner that you have been aware that your telephone number has been listed in a public online database for the last 18 months, despite the fact that it is a silent number. The Commissioner is unlikely to investigate, unless there was a good reason for why you did not complain when you first became aware of the issue.

Yes

Sorry, the Commissioner is unlikely to investigate your complaint. Further information.

Further information

The Commissioner may decide not to investigate your complaint if you became aware of the matter you are complaining about more than 12 months ago (Section of the Privacy Act to read: 41(1)(c)).

This is because where an incident occurred a significant time ago, it may be hard for the Commissioner to investigate effectively and provide procedural fairness to both parties. For example, information about what happened is likely to be stale or key people may no longer be able to recollect what occurred.

However, if you have good reasons for taking more than 12 months to tell the Commissioner about the matter, for example you have been trying to resolve it directly with the respondent during that time, then the Commissioner may decide to investigate even though more than 12 months have passed.

Key point

  • The Commissioner may decide not to investigate your complaint if you became aware of the matter you are complaining about more than 12 months ago.

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