Management firm fined for unlawful debt collection

The Office for Personal Data Protection has released its 2018 Annual Report, which mentions a case of improper debt collection together with other cases and statistics.

In one specific case, a property management company was fined 8,000 patacas for breaching a local resident’s personal data.

According to the report, the company mailed a letter to the resident’s workplace, asking the person to pay debts associated with property management fees. The letter was specifically mailed to the resident’s manager, who eventually opened the letter.

Considering the principles of debt collection, the Office believes that the company should have mailed the letter to the person’s home address or collected the fee through the courts. As that was not the case, the Office fined the property management company.

Another company was fined MOP12,000 for its sales and marketing tactics because it failed to explain how it had obtained the contact information of recipients.

Three cases in which personal information had been published were also included in the report as case examples. In these three cases, the victims’ personal data, such as photos, phone numbers and vehicle number plates, were publicized on social media without the victims’ approval.

In 2018, the Office received a total of 1,829 enquiries and opened a total of 109 investigation files, 90.8% of which were opened after the Office received complaints from residents.

Regarding these files, 59.6% involved non-legitimate information handling, while 22.9% involved a failure to comply with data processing principles.

More than half of the parties being investigated are private organizations.

The Office handled 330 cases in total in 2018, including 221 cases transferred from 2017. Of these, 208 were completed and the relevant parties in 10.6% of 208 completed cases were fined. The offenders were all private organizations or individuals. The Office also issued improvement proposals in 19.7% of completed cases. JZ

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