Auto body repair shops in British Columbia are complaining to the province's privacy commissioner about the public auto insurer requiring that the shops hand over customer credit card information in the course of routine audits.
I wonder whether there's anything in the customer's policy allowing ICBC to collect this information?
Check it out:
Auto body shops take aim at ICBC's credit-card policy
Neal Hall, Vancouver Sun
Published: Monday, August 13, 2007
An association representing auto body shops and automotive glass repair companies has filed a complaint with B.C.'s information and privacy commissioner about having to hand over customer credit card numbers to the Insurance Corp. of B.C.
The United Auto Trades Association of B.C. says disclosure of a customer's personal and financial information during ICBC audits should not be done without a customer's written consent.
The complaint, obtained by The Vancouver Sun, says the disclosure without written consent is "clearly unlawful."
"It's of concern to us," said Gerry Preddy, vice-president of the association. "We've had examples of files being lost [by ICBC]."
The association, in its complaint, cites the federal Personal Information Protection Act, which states: "An organization must not, as a condition of supplying a product or service, require an individual's consent to the collection, use or disclosure of personal information beyond what is necessary to provide the product or service."
ICBC demands such information during audits of auto body and glass repair shops that participate in ICBC's Glass Express Program to make sure shops are charging the vehicle insurance deductible amount.
"When a customer makes a claim, they are required to pay a deductible," explained ICBC spokeswoman Kate Best, "so repair shops provide ICBC with credit card information to confirm the payment of the deductible."
ICBC's position is that audits of repair shops are reasonable to verify payments, she said.
"The matter is currently before the information and privacy commissioner and ICBC will await the ruling," Best said.
The association says while membership in the glass express program is voluntary -- about 700 businesses and 60 per cent of glass repair shops participate in the program -- shops would suffer a drastic loss in business if they withdrew or refused to hand over the financial information of customers during ICBC audits.
The association made a final submission to the privacy commissioner on July 30, pointing out a recent B.C. Court of Appeal decision "confirmed that the collection and disclosure must be authorized by law."
The appeal court, in its ruling involving Royal City Jewellers & Loans Ltd., struck down a New Westminster bylaw allowing police to collect financial and personal information about people selling or pawning items to second-hand stores and pawn shops. The shops still collect the information but take the position they won't hand it over to police without a court order or search warrant.
Royal City Jewellers launched the court challenge, stating it was an invasion of privacy for law-abiding customers.