Firm makes your record their business

Monday 29 March 2004

Tenants and employees will be under pressure to authorise checks on whether they have a criminal record, a new private data collection company has confirmed.

By The Landlord

The company, Personal Reference, began gathering publicly available information about a year ago, director Rachel Railey said when contacted last week.

Information is gleaned from newspaper, radio and television reports of court appearances.

The collated information can be purchased from Personal Reference and used to check the background of prospective tenants, their referees, or credit rating.

The Office of the Privacy Commissioner was unavailable for comment, but a spokeswoman for the Ministry of Housing, which operates Tenancy Services, said databases overseas had raised concerns about information accuracy and how it was kept up to date.

"Some individuals have had difficulties in having their details removed from the database when incorrect details had been placed there about them," she said.

Ms Railey said that, apart from publicly available information, prospective tenants will be asked to sign a form which entitles Personal Reference to request a check of Ministry of Justice records for previous convictions.

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