Friday, November 18, 2005

Canadian Passport Office caught in document mix-up

The Halifax Chronicle Herald is reporting on a mix-up from the Canadian Passport Office that has at least one person upset.

The Passport office passing the buck in document mix-up, woman says

When Alana Hines opened an envelope from Passport Canada recently, it contained more than her newest passport — she also found the complete credit card information, phone number, address and original marriage certificate for a stranger in Ontario.

Ms. Hines was not surprised, because the woman had called her at work earlier to say she received Ms. Hines’s marriage certificate and driver’s licence with her own new passport.

"I had her Visa number and her expiry date. I’m an honest person so I didn’t do anything with it but if it had gotten into the wrong hands, that could have been very serious," said Ms. Hines, of Dutch Settlement, Halifax County.

She called Passport Canada immediately but said the agency wasn’t any help.

"They tried to make excuses, they just said that they’d have to look into it and have somebody call me back. But they told me that I should try and contact (the Ontario woman) and see if she’d send my information back to me, and I didn’t believe that was acceptable, as they’re the ones that messed up."

Ms. Hines, who got married in August, had applied for a new passport Oct. 4 to reflect her married name. The passport arrived correctly but without the accompanying personal documents she had sent along with her application. And the ones she did receive had little in common to possibly explain the mix-up, she said.


Darce Fardy of the Nova Scotia Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Review Office said the mix-up is unacceptable.

"That is really awful, particularly for a government body."

Mr. Fardy said privacy concerns are becoming a big issue and easy access to personal information can quickly lead to fraud and identity theft.

"Those two people, they obviously knew that there was something wrong with this and that it was a privacy concern."

A Passport Canada spokesman said he was unaware Ms. Hines had not heard from the agency.

"We’re certainly going to recognize that incidents like this do happen but they are very rare,"" Dan Kingsbury said. "Obviously we take this kind of stuff very seriously."


Ms. Hines said she just wants to know how the mix-up happened and is disappointed with Passport Canada’s handling of the situation. "It was like they didn’t care."

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