A Whangarei woman says she "feels grubby" after ACC hired a
private detective to watch her and then used the information
to reduce payments to her.
The woman, Karin Garry, of Whau Valley, has lodged a
complaint through the Privacy Commissioner over ACC
"snooping" which she says was an invasion of her privacy.
Ms Garry, 58, fell on her knee while walking her dog a year
ago. She was a sickness beneficiary at the time and entitled
to home help and medical assistance.
She told ACC she could not walk any distance, and required
crutches and home help. However, a report the ACC provided to
the Northern Advocate says information was received that Ms
Garry was misrepresenting her level of capacity and a private
investigator was hired to undertake inquiries.
While under observation, Ms Garry was seen not using
crutches, driving alone and was twice seen bending to pick up
firewood she loaded into a barrow and wheeled into a shed.
As a result, ACC called Ms Garry in for an interview on June
5 and her home help was reduced from 6.5 to 3 hours a week
from June 9 to July 6, after which it was recommended to
Ms Garry acknowledged ACC's findings through the
investigator, but said she had recorded on her ACC file that
she didn't use her crutches all the time because she found
them difficult to manipulate.
"As for bending to pick up a couple of bits of firewood --
that didn't involve using my injured leg."
Ms Garry said the private eye surveillance had her "looking
over my shoulder" in the supermarket and no longer popping
out in her nightie to get clothes off the line in her
enclosed back yard.
"I feel soiled," she said.
ACC said $731,758 spent on private investigators in 2013/14
saved $22.7 million in the same period.
ACC spent $731,758 on private investigators in 2013/14,
$542,266 in 2012/13 and $748,639 in 2011/12.
ACC spokeswoman Stephanie Melville said "allegations of fraud
are taken very seriously and all reported cases, including
public tip-offs, are investigated thoroughly".
Ms Melville said private investigators were not used in every
investigation and over the past few years there had been
fewer than four complaints about private investigators acting
- By Mike Barrington of the Northern Advocate