On December 20, 2010, the Federal Court of Canada fined consumer credit agency TransUnion of Canada Inc. under Canada’s Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA).  TransUnion was ordered to pay approximately $5,000 to a consumer who was unable to secure a loan after TransUnion reported inaccurate credit information to his bank. 

The negative information should have been attributed to a different individual with a similar name and similar address.  The court held that even though the error may have been caused by a “commercially sensible” matching system, the reported credit information was not “sufficiently accurate, complete, and up-to-date” for the purposes for which it was used.

The damages award is the first under the applicable section of PIPEDA in the statute’s ten-year history.  The court found that while damages are discretionary under the statute, they were appropriate as to TransUnion:  “Where the credit reporting service has failed to take prompt, reasonable steps to correct the record and to therefore ameliorate the embarrassment of the individual, it should expect that it will be ordered to compensate him for the humiliation it has caused.”