Man angry at threats in bailiff note sent in error

EMMA HORSLEY
Last updated 12:00 17/10/2012

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A Sanson man is fuming after he was threatened with his possessions being seized because a bailiff had the wrong address.

In the same week that the Social Development Ministry is under scrutiny for breaching clients' privacy, Kevan Phillips has been made privy to personal details relating to a neighbour through a Justice Ministry blunder.

ACC has also been embarrassed by privacy breaches and is under threat of being sued by clients.

Mr Phillips' wife, Vivienne, came home from work on Monday to find the notice left by a bailiff addressed to a person the couple didn't know or "The Occupier", threatening to enter the premises and remove personal belongings if the unknown person did not contact the bailiff named on the card.

"I now know things about this person that I shouldn't know and that is wrong. I know he has issues before the courts and I'm sure that would be very embarrassing for him," Mr Phillips.

The onus was on the ministry to ensure they had the right details to safeguard people's privacy, he said.

Through a simple piece of detective work he had easily been able to find the person's address who was named on the card by looking in the phone book.

"I don't see why the Ministry of Justice could not have done the same thing."

Mr Phillips said his wife was extremely distressed and frightened that whoever had left the card would come back and take their property.

"When I finally got through to the person who had left the card, after several attempts, she was quite rude and blase. I did say I wanted to wring someone's neck and I think she thought I meant her."

Mr Phillips said he thought the Justice Ministry should identify its target better and that the tone of the message was very aggressive.

"I'm not the person named on the card but I am the occupier and so I was also the target, according to the ministry. It seems you are guilty of something without them having to prove they have got the right address."

He said he wondered what would have happened if he had been away on holiday and had not been able to react as quickly as he had.

"Would they have come in while I was away and taken my stuff? I don't know. Probably."

Mr Phillips said some people might think he was making too much of the situation, but he was concerned that if an elderly person had received the same notice by mistake it could be very stressful and frightening for them.

The Justice Ministry did not respond to questions put to it by the Manawatu Standard yesterday.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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