Wednesday October 19, 2011
Be more responsible with customer data
IT seems that the Personal Data Protection Act (PDPA) does not give much comfort with regard to personal information privacy “Personal data still open to abuse” (Sunday Star, Oct 16).
The lack of bite in the Act is due to the Commissioner not having been appointed yet to enforce the law, thus many people are targeted through telemarketing calls and unsolicited letters.
It is no wonder then that purchasers of properties are bombarded by calls from renovators, property agents and even financial institutions, since the list of purchasers’ particulars can be cheaply bought from developers.
Over the last decade, I have been receiving numerous unsolicited calls and letters outlining various proposals. My questions on how they got my handphone number and personal particulars were not satisfactorily answered.
The irony is that these people seem to know my cash flow and financial situation, as whenever my income increases and/or I am expecting a big cash inflow, these marketers would call me non-stop to buy their products, memberships and/or subscribe to services.
And at times of financial downturns such calls coincidentally dry up.
I own a relatively big house in a prime area of Ipoh which became vacant in 2007. Immediately thereafter, I was targeted with many calls from agents trying to convince me to sell the property. How they got my handphone number is baffling.
One property agency company wrote a letter to me at my home address in Kuala Lumpur with an offer for my house in Ipoh, and in the letter it was stated that I had to reply.
The tone of the letter was pushy and plain rude. I decided not to reply as I was shaken by the tone
of the letter. I would like to
know how the agency got hold of my address in Kuala Lumpur.
It is imperative that banks and developers be more responsible when handling customers’ information to maintain integrity and professionalism.
These companies must ensure that there are internal monitoring controls in place to prevent their staff from easily getting hold of the customer database for their own purpose.
As nowadays most customer databases are in electronic form, the importance of general computer security controls cannot be ignored to prevent unauthorised downloading.
The often freely available particulars could be open to much abuse, such as various scams and fraudulent investments. It is scary to think that a person’s financial information and personal details can be easily obtained.
Sonya Liew, co-deputy chairperson of the Human Rights Committee of the Bar Council, was spot on in stating that there was need for a Privacy Act to ensure that the public was protected and had an avenue to seek redress, damages and remedy, or an injunction to prevent further abuse of their personal information.
The appointment of the Commissioner to enforce the PDPA needs to be done in a timely manner so that public complaints can be swiftly acted upon.
In the meantime, it is better to never entertain unsolicited calls and to hang up as soon as possible and,
if possible, inform the caller of
your displeasure on receiving such calls.
The consequence of even hearing the caller out could mean more unsolicited calls in the future.
NG SHU TSUNG,