The Data Protection Act re Credit Reference Files
Credit Reference Files are littered with inaccuracies and information registered purely for vexatious reasons. Creditors/Debt Collection Agencies and the Credit Reference Agencies believe they are above the Data Protection Act. Even when faced with evidence an entry on a CRF is inaccurate or placed in error, they are unwilling to remove or amend the information. Even when the Information Commissioner's Office investigates, the ICO appear unwilling or unable to rule against big business.
These inaccuracies can ruin people's lives, preventing them obtaining credit. We all know that the strength of the economy of the UK relies on the availability of credit.
The Data Protection Act needs to be changed to regulate CRFs stricter. Guidance for recording defaults etc needs to be included in statute, as opposed to the Technical Guidance Notes issued by the ICO.
Marcia Simpson-James commented
More power to your elbow!
Kevin Lovelady commented
I was recently advised by (one of?) THE major credit reference agencies that, further to a request to remove a linked address from my credit report, they were unable to do so without authorisation from the companies, as "the information they hold belongs to the companies who provide it and they are the data controllers." and "if I would like to contact them after the 30/10/11, they will be happy to consider removing the link after that time." They subsequentely advised that "the Human Rights Act 1998 requires all 'public authorities' to act compatibly with the rights contained in Schedule 1 of the Act. However, this agency is not a public authority but a private company carrying on commercial activities. It follows that the 1998 Act does not directly place upon us any additional responsibilities or duties."
I wrote to the companies informing them that the address no longer had anything to do with my personal finances. No positive responses received.
I contacted the Financial Ombudsman who advised that they were unable to do anything and suggested I contact the Information Commissioner’s Office who advised me that
* the information can remain on record for "as long as information is relevant for credit referencing purposes"
* there is no set time limit for how long this period of relevancy is
The ICO representative suggested I contact the FSA for further advice. The FSA summarised response was that they were unable to resolve disputes and that I should seek legal advice.
Ultimately I find the irrelevancy and powerlessness of the FSA, ICO and Financial Ombudsman quite astounding and to suggest that it is I who have to resort to legal advice in order to control my own personal data is frankly insulting.