simple terms the Data Protection Act requires companies and individuals
who process and retain information about their customers to tell
the customer how the information will be used and to what purposes
it will be put. The Act does not restrict itself only to information
kept on a computer; it is relevant to any ordered filing system.
If you have applied to a FISA company the information below describes
how your data will be processed. If your information is to be processed
differently the trader will tell you.
The broker may also use the information:
The broker may keep the information for several years. You can ask for the information not to be used to offer you other products. Any other broker or lender to whom the information is passed during processing your application may use it in the same way. Every company or person who processes or keeps data has a duty to keep that information up to date and accurate.
NOTE - CREDIT REFERENCE AGENCIES
The names and addresses of the main credit reference agencies are listed below.
Brokers and lenders may use one or more of these agencies. Information about which credit reference agency was used should be made freely available. This guide tells you all the likely uses; some lenders may only do some of the things we explain. You should be told if a lender is going to use a credit scoring system.
Use of information when application is being processed. Lenders to whom the application is passed will make wider use of the information than a broker. If you have received any lender documents, they should include a statement telling you what they will do with the information, or telling you where to look to find out what use they will make of it. This statement will usually be near any signature box, or clearly placed on the front page. If the information is not by the signature box there may be an “information padlock” sign drawing your attention to where the information is. Almost all lending companies will check the information supplied on loan or mortgage applications with data held by credit reference agencies. The lender may search on more than one occasion. Every time a search is made it is recorded by the agency and disclosed to other organisations on any later searches. Lenders will use the information obtained in the credit reference searches to help them assess the application and they may use the result of any search in a credit scoring system. A credit scoring system is a system by which points are given for various factors like your age, your job or even for information obtained from a credit reference agency, such as how you have repaid previous or existing credit. Lenders use different methods of scoring depending upon their interpretation of the importance ofdifferent factors and the level of risk they are willing to accept. The lender may check your details with the credit reference agency or with other agencies (see pages 24 and 25 ) to satisfy itself that all the details on the application are true, and that the application has really been made by you. If it suspects information is false or inaccurate it may report it to a fraud prevention agency. Please ensure the information you give is true as lending companies will check with fraud prevention agencies and if you give false or inaccurate information, and the lender suspects fraud, it will record this.
NOTE - OTHER AGENCIES SEARCHED
As well as the credit reference agencies, there are agencies dealing specially with the checking of application details to identify possible fraud. This is a protection for honest applicants, although it can sometimes cause delays. Details of these other agencies, and a brief outline of their purpose, are given below.
What if my loan application is not accepted?
Sometimes a lender may not wish to lend. This may be for a number of reasons. The lender may think you cannot afford the loan. If it is a secured loan, your property may not be of sufficient value. A lender does not have to tell you exactly why you have been refused a loan but you can ask them for the name and address of any credit reference agency used and they will supply this information free of charge. If you are refused credit because of a computerised credit scoring system you can ask the lender for an explanation of how their credit scoring works (this applies only if the decision has been made on the basis of a computerised system alone). The lender may charge a small fee for providing this information. You also have the right to require a personal, non automated, review of the decision. Nobody has a right to receive a loan. Loans are always granted at the discretion of the lending company.
Use of information once a loan has been made All lending companies keep information about their customers in their own records. This will include all the initial information given by you, and extra information about how your account has been run and any other dealings between you and the lender. Lenders will record the conduct of any loan throughout its duration, including how punctually the payments are made and other information, with one or more of the credit reference agencies. This enables them, and others, to make decisions about credit and credit-related services for you and members of your household including decisions on motor and household credit, life and other insurance proposals and insurance claims. Information may also be provided to the other agencies mentioned below. These will help lenders and other subscribers to those agencies to trace debtors, recover debt, prevent fraud and to check your identity to prevent money laundering. In particular, any difference between the information given by you or your broker and any later information discovered by the lender is likely to be noted. Lenders may also use your information for statistical analysis about credit, insurance and fraud. This may be done by them or by third parties contracted to do the work by them. If they use a contractor, they are obliged to ensure that your data is properly secure. Many lenders will also need to give information about you and your account to their bankers, other providers, insurers and re-insurers of funding for their lending or any other product they have offered to you. If your broker or lender intends to use your information for any purposes not included above, it will explain this in its documents. Brokers and lenders are under a legal duty to keep all the information they hold accurate and up to date. The agencies do not keep “blacklists” nor do they give any opinion about whether or not credit should be granted. They do have a duty to keep information up to date and accurate.
Credit Reference Agencies
The main credit reference agencies are:
Consumer Services Team,
PO Box 491,
Leeds, LS1 5XX
Consumer Help Service,
PO Box 8000,
Nottingham, NG1 5GX
All the FISA lending companies use one or more of these agencies. Credit reference agencies keep a wide range of information. This includes information from the electoral roll (sometimes known as the voters roll) and records of most county court judgements and bankruptcies. They also retain information relating to previous and existing credit and a record of searches made against the file. The lenders share information through the agencies providing a history of how punctually payments are being made or have been made. Loan information is usually held on file for 6 years. Details of the voters roll may be held for much longer. Information about credit searches is kept for up to two years.
Credit File Advice Service,
PO Box 3001,
Glasgow, G81 2DT
Reports from CIFAS relating to fraud and fraud avoidance are also available to its members (most lenders) – these contain information indicating that fraud, or attempted fraud, has been notified by a lender. The information might not directly relate to you, it might relate to someone who has tried to impersonate you. Data available to members of CIFAS, may also be used to help make decisions on motor, household, credit, life and other insurance proposals for you and members of your household.
CML Repossession Register
The Council of Mortgage Lenders' Repossession Register is available to its members through the main credit reference agencies. If you have had a property repossessed or have given it up voluntarily this will show on the register.
A file may also show a “gone away” marker indicating that a member of the “Gone Away Information Network” has reported that they cannot trace a customer who is in arrears with payments. Alternatively, the marker may indicate a new address which the “gone away” has been traced to.
Files in this register contain detailed information on applications made and loans given. It is aimed at tracing fraudsters who use different combinations of information to obtain credit dishonestly. It checks and counter checks information given on application forms.
If your broker or lender uses any of the above agencies they will be able to confirm their contact addresses.
CIFAS information is intended to warn lenders and act as a protection for innocent customers.
All Agencies, Brokers and Lenders
You are able to see what information any of the above hold about you. You can ask them for a copy at anytime. They must also tell you where the information was obtained. You will need to write and they may charge a small fee (£10 maximum). The firm will have to reply within 40 days from receipt of their fee. If you wish to see the information contained on a credit reference agency file you can do so by writing to the relevant agency. The agency must respond within 7 working days. There is a small fee of £2 required. If your credit reference file contains information about other people with whom you have no financial connection or if it contains information which is incorrect you can ask for the entry to be corrected, removed, or have a note put on the file explaining why you think the information is wrong. The agency will not remove correct information. The Information Commissioner provides a useful leaflet which explains how to request changes to your credit reference file. The easy to read leaflet includes examples of letters and details of various actions you may take to amend a file.
You can obtain a copy of the free leaflet by writing to:
No Credit Leaflet,
P.O. Box 99,
Information is also available at www.dataprotection.gov.uk