Housing NZ blunder revealed in letter

JO MOIR
Last updated 05:00 04/04/2013

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Personal details mistakenly sent to a Wellington woman by Housing New Zealand are another failure in a long line of privacy breaches by government agencies.

Melissa Brown, of Porirua, received a letter from Housing NZ yesterday detailing her address, income-related rent and the market rent for her home.

Attached was the same information for a Wellington man, whom she did not know.

"I just don't understand how they could have ended up together," she said.

It comes on the back of personal information security breaches by ACC, the Ministry of Social Development and the Earthquake Commission.

Housing NZ said an investigation revealed two tenants had received a letter addressed to another customer in the same envelope as the letter intended for them. Chief executive Glen Sowry said the letters originated from two separate offices and both incidents were the result of human error.

Ms Brown said she was shocked to see the information had been sent to her and was angry her information could have been sent to someone else.

"I couldn't help but think what if my details had been given to the wrong person and they had been used in some way," she said. "I have to contact Housing NZ by the 16th of April otherwise I don't get the subsidy and this guy hasn't even received his letter, so he would have no idea."

Mr Sowry said the tenants who received the information in error would be contacted.

"Given that both these errors resulted from human error, we are communicating with all of our managers to ensure that additional diligence and care is taken when handling customer information and correspondence."

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