ACC client: Privacy breach led to blackmail

Photo / Alan Gibson
Photo / Alan Gibson

A woman with brain damage has claimed she was blackmailed by someone who was erroneously sent her medical information by ACC.

The woman said the man who received the file contacted her and threatened her over an eight month period and tried to extort money from her, the Dominion Post reported.

The Privacy Commissioner last month announced an investigation into privacy breaches by the Accident Compensation Commission after a client - Bronwyn Pullar - received the personal details of more than 6000 clients by email.

The Petone woman, who had suffered severe brain damage after having a severe reaction to an anaesthetic during surgery, said ACC had not taken the breach seriously.

She said the government department refused to pay to have her phone number changed and was doing little to have the file retrieved.

She said a case manager had agreed to listen to voicemail messages she had saved from the man, but never came.

The 67-year-old described the ordeal as "horrible".

"He said he knew where I lived and said I had a nice face," she told the Dominion Post.

She told ACC the man gave his name as "Brian or Byron", and had indicated he lived in Petone.

ACC told the Dominion Post it had been aware of the matter since April 2010, and it was being investigated by the commission and police.

"Further, matters of privacy are currently under investigation by the Office of the Auditor-General and the board of ACC, in conjunction with the privacy commissioner.

"These investigations are examining ACC's privacy processes and its governance," the paper reported ACC as saying.

The incident is the latest controversy in a string of privacy breaches ACC is accused of.

ACC client Bronwyn Pullar received the details of about 6,500 clients, including the victims of sexual abuse, in an email last year.

On March 23, Canterbury student Stacey Parenti received another woman's claim in the mail instead of her own.

- Herald Online staff

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