Often the problem can be that a government institution or corporation has incorrect information that you want corrected. Government institutions are obligated to ensure the completeness and accuracy of the personal information they rely on to make decisions about you. Upon immediately discovering an error, you should notify the institution in writing. Often there is a certain request form to correct a record for a government institution. This doesn’t ensure that a correction will be made, but at the bare minimum they must note on your record that you asked for a correction. If they refuse to make a correction, there are avenues for you to pursue to appeal the decision (to the Privacy Commissioner, etc). If they do correct the record, they must notify you that your request was processed. This process is identical for provincial or federal government institutions.

For health records, if you believe there is an error in your record you can request in writing that the custodian in control of the record changes it. The custodian may choose whether to make the correction but must inform the applicant of why the correction was refused. You may also appeal these decisions to the Privacy Commissioner. 

You can also have your criminal record corrected if it is incorrect. If a pardon (record suspension) was granted for a criminal offence, the offence must be removed from the CPIC. Also, certain convictions are taken off of a record after a period of time under a “purge” policy. If there was a charge that didn’t result in a conviction, you can ask the arresting officer to return all information taken at the time of arrest, including fingerprints, to be destroyed. However, the police force doesn’t have to comply with the request.

If you discover an error or disagree with some of the facts found in your credit file, you can notify the credit reporting agency. They may choose whether to investigate or not. However, in order to alter the information they need to verify with the credit industry members that it was incorrect. You are able to include a notation to your file explaining information in your credit file.

If the media publishes something personal and incorrect about you, there are two mechanisms that can be pursued. The publisher may face criminal charges because they are not permitted to publish information about a person that injures his/her reputation even if that wasn’t the intention. If the information was true but damaged your reputation, there is nothing you can do because they published the truth. Secondly, you can sue the publisher for defamation under civil law.

picture used with permission

picture used with permission