A young Christchurch mother is "shocked" after her Inland Revenue number was used for a stranger's investment portfolio worth thousands of dollars, and is frustrated at the "absolute mission" she had to go through to fix it.
Lilly Clemens Moore was filing through her tax documents in May when she noticed there were two extra investment portfolios linked to her account, she told Newshub.
The accounts were with Auckland-based investment company Fisher Funds, worth approximately $12,000 and were "definitely not mine".
Moore said she contacted Fisher Funds immediately and the company confirmed they didn't have any funds associated with her name.
"I gave them my IRD number and my IRD number was associated with another one of their clients and not me. I'm not very happy, as you can imagine," she told Newshub.
After checking back on her Inland Revenue documents, Moore said her IRD number has been used by the portfolio holder since at least 2019. However, she doesn't believe she has been paying tax on the accounts.
Moore said she believed a "clerical issue" which caused the mistake, but was "quite shocked" to discover Fisher Funds had no checks in place to prevent situations like this.
"The fact that I have to call them to make them aware of the situation is even worse. If I hadn't called them, they would never have known."
She said she could also understand the client must be "pretty annoyed" knowing a stranger had insight into their affairs.
An 'absolute mission'
Moore said since discovering the IRD number mix-up she has been trying to get it corrected, but it's turned into an "absolute mission".
"As soon as I found out, I called the IRD... and the IRD swiftly told me that I was still liable for those accounts until Fisher Funds changed the IRD number. [But Fisher funds couldn't change the number] because they didn't have a replacement IRD number for that account, so they had to stick with mine."
She told Newshub she went back to Fisher Funds numerous times to check if they changed the IRD number.
She said they told her the person whose account it was "wasn't very happy about having to pay extra tax" and that the matter had gone to the top of Fisher Funds for investigation, but met a dead-end.
"A few more weeks later I emailed them again asking what the status was. I was told that the IRD number had been changed to the correct one and they had asked the IRD to attribute all tax on those accounts to the new number and said they would keep me updated. I didn’t hear anything back.
"[But] a few days ago I got a letter from the IRD with my tax summary for the year and the Fisher Funds accounts are still showing on my IRD number."
She said she was "pretty annoyed" at being passed around and believes it shouldn't be her responsibility to fix a mistake she didn't make.
"I've got a young family as well… I don't have the time or the energy to deal with something like this and Fisher Funds have just been so complacent and really unhelpful during the whole situation."
Fisher Funds CEO Bruce McLachlan told Newshub he had been in communication with Moore to help resolve the issue, which he said was made in August 2018.
"It was a basic human error involving an IRD number with one of our clients, that completely at random brought Lilly innocently into this situation," he said.
"No private information was shared that could be attributed back to any individual."
McLachlan admitted after Moore first raised the issue on May 21, 2021, the company took too long to fix it.
"It took too long to resolve this partly due to IRD advising us on two separate occasions that they would only deal with Lilly directly on this matter, thus sending her on a merry go round between IRD and Fisher Funds.
"Subsequently (confirmed early Thursday and Friday by IRD), we have been able to confirm that the changes required have all been made. Most importantly, the IRD advise that Lilly has not paid any extra tax in any of the last three years due to our error."
He said he had extended an offer to Moore to "give her the peace of mind she needs to ensure she has not been impacted in any way by our error, also agreeing to underwrite any costs that have been incurred in this process".
"Fisher Funds made a simple error which we could have managed better, and for that we have apologised. Lilly should not have had to endure this frustration or inconvenience."
Moore confirmed McLachlan had since been in touch and was "happy to provide assistance".
Newshub contacted Inland Revenue for comment.