It seems that we are well and truly into Election mode here in Australia and the media has definitely not let up on this. There has been a very thorough campaign drive to get Australians to enrol to vote and having twin boys just turned 18 has also highlighted this in our household.
I know some of you savvy business people may be thinking this would be a great time to head down to the electoral office and have a look for fresh information on some lost debtors. If you weren’t thinking of this and now are please read on, as there are some very large consequences for misusing that information that I would like to make you aware of.
What the Institute of Mercantile Agents Say
Recently at the Annual Institute of Mercantile Agents Conference, the electoral role came up in the discussion as an issue of privacy and the rules around using it as a method of finding people who owe money. The institute’s direction to members was that the electoral role was not an acceptable place to search for debtors as there are strict rules around the use of the information on the role. The CEO Alan Harries outlined the dangers of misuse and fines that can be incurred if found guilty of an offence.
Two Important pieces of information
What I would like to highlight here for you is two important pieces of information from the electoral commission website which Mr Harries was eluding to. Please find as follows;
- An electronic copy of the current electoral roll (e-roll) is available for public inspection at any AEC office. You may inspect the publicly available electoral roll for the purposes of:
• Checking your own enrollment details, or
• Making an objection to the enrollment of another elector.
You may not copy, record or photograph any information from the electoral roll with any electronic device.
- The roll is not available for sale in any format. Consistent with the restrictions that are in place for roll information provided under section 90B of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 (section 91B contains offences on the commercial use of section 90B information with penalties of up to $170 000), the AEC discourages any inspection of the roll information that involves some commercial or other non-electoral use of this information.
As you can read there are large penalties up to $170 000 for misuse of the information.
Further to this, I would like to let you know that BCA Debt does not use the electoral role as a method of finding debts, BCA Debt use paid legitimate searching companies for the purpose of finding your debtors and the staff of BCA Debt follow strict guidelines when searching for people.
Breaching a Persons Privacy
I would also like to point out that breaching a person’s privacy has now become something that is not taken lightly by us or the industry we work in and I cannot stress enough how important it is for all businesses and their personnel to be conversant with the ASIC/ACCC Debt Collection guidelines for collectors and creditors.