Version: 1.1 Adopted: 26 March 2020
IN BRIEF
We are credit reference agencies and we play a key role in the UK’s financial ecosystem. This document
explains how we obtain, process and share personal data about consumers and businesses.
This section briefly summarises the key processing activities common to the credit reference agencies.
For more detail, please refer to the rest of this document. In addition, we recommend reviewing each
credit reference agency’s own information notices, which explain the specific processing activities of
that credit reference agency. Links to these documents can be found in section 14.
 Credit reference agencies collect information about consumers and businesses from various
sources and build databases that hold all of this data.
 The sources of that information include public records, such as court judgments (CCJs) and
electoral register information, and financial information from lenders, utilities suppliers and
telecoms businesses.
 Lenders and other organisations carry out searches against that information with one or more
credit reference agencies.
 Organisations can carry out searches for several reasons. These include assessing
creditworthiness and ability to afford financial products, checking the accuracy of other
information, preventing and detecting crime (such as fraud or money laundering), checking
identity, tracing individuals (for example to recover debts that they owe), calculating how
much their insurance premiums should be, and assessing their suitability for a job or a
tenancy.
 When an organisation carries out a search of someone’s information, we will record details of
that search. This is known as a search footprint.
 Credit reference agencies also use consumer data for marketing-related purposes, such as
helping organisations to better direct their marketing, including by screening individuals out
of advertising for credit products so that those products are not offered to people who would
not be eligible for them. They may also use the data to build insight to predict information or
characteristics about the population, to help organisations identify who they want to market
their products and services to.
 Credit reference agencies also use the data in their databases for other activities. These
include analytics and profiling, such as helping lenders build scorecards to use in assessing
credit applications.
 Because not every lender supplies data to every credit reference agency, your credit reference
information held at each credit reference agency might be different.
 Credit reference agencies carry out several types of data processing to help achieve the aims
described above. These include loading data, matching and linking data together as well as
testing, developing and building our products and services.
 Consumers have certain rights that they can seek to exercise in relation to the personal data
held by credit reference agencies. For example, they have rights to obtain a copy of the data,
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to ask the credit reference agency to correct it if it is inaccurate, and to object to the
processing of the data.
Please note:
 This document describes how the credit reference agencies use and distribute the personal
data described in section 4. This data is referred to as “credit reference data”.
 The credit reference agencies are independent businesses. Not all of the products and services
described in this document are provided by all three of the credit reference agencies, or in the
same way, and not all of the data is used by each of them.
 This document does not cover all personal data that the credit reference agencies use and
distribute; for example, this document does not cover processing of personal data in relation
to credit reference agency services you sign up to directly, such as services which allow you to
view your own credit report and score. Section 2 and section 14 below provide links to where
information can be found about each credit reference agency’s other products and services
(including marketing services) and how they use and share other kinds of personal data.
 Consumers can obtain a copy of the information that each credit reference agency holds about
them. Section 9 explains how this can be done.
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CONTENTS
This document answers these questions:
1. Who are the credit reference agencies and how can they be contacted?
2. What do credit reference agencies use credit reference data for?
3. What are the credit reference agencies’ legal grounds for handling credit reference data?
4. What kinds of personal data do credit reference agencies use, and where do they get it from?
5. Who do credit reference agencies share credit reference data with?
6. Where is credit reference data stored and sent?
7. For how long is credit reference data retained?
8. Do the credit reference agencies make decisions about consumers or profile them?
9. How can a consumer see what data the credit reference agencies hold about them? Do
consumers have a ‘data portability’ right in connection with their credit reference data?
10. What can a consumer do if their credit reference data is wrong?
11. Can a consumer object to the use of their credit reference data and have it deleted?
12. Can a consumer restrict what the credit reference agencies do with their credit reference
data?
13. Who can a consumer complain to if they are unhappy about the use of their credit reference
data?
14. Where can consumers find out more?
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1. WHO ARE THE CREDIT REFERENCE AGENCIES AND HOW CAN THEY BE CONTACTED?
There are three main credit reference agencies in the UK.
Each is regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (“FCA”) and authorised to conduct business as a
credit reference agency. The full names and contact details for each are set out below.
Credit reference agency Contact details
Equifax Limited
Post: Equifax Limited, Customer Service Centre PO Box 10036,
Leicester, LE3 4FS
Web address: https://www.equifax.co.uk/Contactus/
Contact_Us_Personal_Solutions.html
Email: UKDPO@equifax.com
Phone: 0333 321 4043 or 0800 014 2955
Experian Limited
Post: Experian, PO BOX 9000, Nottingham, NG80 7WP
Web address: https://www.experian.co.uk/consumer/contactus/
index.html
Phone: 0344 481 0800 or 0800 013 8888
TransUnion International
UK Limited
Post: TransUnion, One Park Lane, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS3 1EP
Web address: https://www.transunion.co.uk/consumer/consumerenquiries
Email: consumer@transunion.co.uk
Phone: 0330 024 7574
In this information notice, these three companies are referred to as Equifax, Experian and TransUnion
respectively. Together they are referred to as credit reference agencies.
Controllers
Each credit reference agency is a controller of the credit reference data that it holds. This means that
it has certain responsibilities under data protection law to make sure that the data is used fairly and
lawfully.
Where a credit reference agency operates as part of a group of companies, it may share joint
responsibility with the other members of that group when sharing data with them. You can contact
the relevant credit reference agency using the details above if you want to enquire about any of those
group companies or exercise any of your rights in respect of your personal data.
2. WHAT DO CREDIT REFERENCE AGENCIES USE CREDIT REFERENCE DATA FOR?
Credit reference agencies use credit reference data in products and services that they offer to their
clients. The purposes for which those products and services are used are described below, but please
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note that different clients may use the products and services in different ways. Consumers should
check the privacy policies of the organisations that they deal with for details about how they use any
products and services provided by the credit reference agencies.
(a) Credit reporting and affordability checks
Each credit reference agency uses credit reference data to provide credit reporting services and
affordability checks to its clients.
Credit reporting
Organisations use credit reporting services to see how people and businesses are managing payments
in respect of their credit arrangements and how they have done so in the past. For example, if a person
applies for a bank loan to buy a car, the bank may use credit reporting services to check whether that
person has defaulted on any previous credit agreements. It will then use this information, together
with information from other sources, to assess the risk of offering the loan.
Affordability checks
Organisations use affordability checks to help understand whether people or businesses applying for
credit are likely to be able to afford the repayments. The information provided as part of the
affordability checks may affect a person’s or business’s ability to obtain credit.
These activities help promote responsible lending, prevent people and businesses from getting into
more debt than they can afford, and reduce the amount of unrecoverable debt and insolvencies.
(b) Checks to validate and verify data, and help prevent and detect fraud, money laundering and
other criminal activity
The credit reference agencies use credit reference data to provide validation and verification services
and other services to help prevent fraud, money laundering and other criminal activity.
Some examples of how credit reference agency clients use these services are as follows:
 When a person applies to an organisation for a product or service, the organisation might ask
that person to answer questions about themselves, and then check the answers against the
data held by the credit reference agencies to see if they match. For example, they may ask
“What is your current address?” If the address provided does not exist on the credit reference
agencies’ records (for example, because it is a fictitious address) or does not match the data
held by the credit reference agencies (for example, there is no record of the person at the
address provided), then this may be an indicator of a mistake or fraud.
 Where some products and services are only available to people of a certain age, organisations
may check whether the person they are dealing with is eligible by looking at data held by the
credit reference agencies. For example, if a person is signing up to join a gambling website
which is only for people who are at least 18 years old, the organisation may check to see if the
age provided by the person matches that held by the credit reference agencies.
 Government and quasi-government bodies may use credit reference agency services to check
whether people are entitled to certain benefits and to help recover unpaid taxes, overpaid
benefits and similar debts. For example, if a person is claiming single person discount for
council tax, a local authority may check with the credit reference agencies to see if any other
adults are living at the same address.
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 The police may use data held by credit reference agencies to help in their investigations into
criminal activity.
An indication of invalid or unverified information, fraud, money laundering or other criminal activity
may affect the outcome of an application for (amongst other things) a product or service, a tenancy
agreement or employment. If clients using the services identify potentially fraudulent activity they
may also pass the applicant’s details to a fraud prevention agency such as Cifas and/or to the police.
(c) Customer management
Credit reference agencies use credit reference data to provide products and services for organisations
to use for customer management purposes. Customer management is the ongoing maintenance of an
organisation’s relationship with its customers. This could include activities designed to support:
 data accuracy: for example, to correct or update data held on the organisation’s records,
such as correcting spelling mistakes or adding missing fields;
 ongoing relationship and account management activities: for example, to help
organisations make decisions relating to credit limit adjustments, transaction
authorisations, card reissue, inbound lending requests, and to identify and manage the
accounts of customers including those at risk, in early stress, in arrears, or going through
a debt collection process.
(d) Tracing and debt recovery
Credit reference agencies use credit reference data to provide products and services that allow
organisations to trace people. This is typically needed where a person has moved address or changed
their telephone number and has not provided their new contact details. The credit reference agencies
help organisations locate customers they have lost contact with by providing them with updated
addresses and other contact details.
The products and services are used to support organisations’ debt recovery and debtor tracing activity.
For example, if a person owes money to an organisation and moves to a new house without telling
the organisation where they have moved to, the organisation may use these services to help find that
person to recover the money that is owed to them.
These products and services are also used to find people in order to let them know about assets that
they may have forgotten about or not be aware of, such as old dormant savings accounts or pension
funds, or to find people to let them know about assets of a deceased person which they have an
interest in, such as administrators or beneficiaries of a deceased person’s estate.
Please also see section 2(h) below which describes how some of the credit reference agencies provide
tracing services for marketing purposes.
(e) Tenant vetting
Credit reference agencies use credit reference data to provide products and services that allow
landlords to verify some of the information provided by their prospective tenants, as well as
confirming that they are who they say they are and that they are likely to be willing and able to pay
their rent on time. Landlords can use this information to help decide whether to agree to the tenancy,
or how much of a deposit they should ask for.
(f) Staff and job candidate vetting
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Credit reference agencies use credit reference data to provide products and services that allow
organisations to verify some of the information provided by their staff and job candidates and confirm
that they are who they say they are. They also enable employers to assess whether the staff member
or candidate has a history of managing their own financial commitments well, or whether they are
financially compromised. This can be used to help them decide whether the person would be or will
continue to be a suitable member of staff.
(g) Insurance risk assessments and pricing
Credit reference agencies use credit reference data to provide products and services for organisations
to use to assess insurance risk. For example, an insurer may find that a person’s financial standing and
history can be used to help predict how likely that person is to make a claim on an insurance policy,
or how large that claim might be. This can help the insurer to decide (i) whether to provide insurance
to a person, and (ii) how much the insurance premium should be, and (iii) whether to allow payment
for insurance on a credit instalment basis.
(h) Marketing and marketing-related services
Overview
Each credit reference agency offers its clients marketing services. Some of these marketing services
use credit reference data and some do not. For details about the marketing services offered and the
personal data used by the credit reference agencies, please see the following links:
Experian: https://www.experian.co.uk/privacy/consumer-information-portal
Equifax: https://www.equifax.co.uk/ein.html
TransUnion: https://www.transunion.co.uk/legal/privacy-centre?#pc-marketing-services
As well as other rights, consumers have the right to object to the processing of their credit reference
data for direct marketing purposes, including any profiling that is related to direct marketing. Section
11 sets out more details on how this right can be exercised.
If a credit reference agency provides marketing services, then they may use an individual’s title, name
(including aliases), address, date of birth, gender and address links information (see section 4 for more
detail), as well as limited information relating to their financial standing.
Screening out
Credit reference agencies use credit reference data to provide screening services to their clients. This
means that they identify people who clients may wish to screen out of marketing lists. Screening is
used to help ensure that individuals do not receive irrelevant or inappropriate marketing information.
For example, a client may want to screen out from its marketing list someone who is deceased, or who
is under 18, or does not reside at the address they hold, or who may not be interested in a product or
service or is unlikely to be accepted for it.
Other marketing-related activities
In addition, credit reference agencies may use credit reference data to offer some or all of the
following marketing services:
 They may supply the open version of the electoral register (where people have not opted out
from their electoral register data being used for marketing and other purposes) to
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organisations for marketing purposes. This can include identifying new potential customers,
verifying that names, addresses and dates of birth collected from other sources are accurate
and complete, and informing customers of any errors.
 They may identify when someone has moved away from an address so that marketing is not
sent to them at that old address.
 They may help build insight using profiling techniques which will be used by organisations to
help them identify people that they want to communicate with about particular products and
services. This insight might predict, for example, age, marital status, household composition,
length of residency at an address and gender. It can help give organisations insight into the
likely characteristics of the UK population at an individual, household and postcode level.
Credit reference data also helps credit reference agencies to validate the insight being
created.
 In certain circumstances, insight might also be used to help clients predict the financial profile
of a person so that they can personalise their interactions with them and make
communications more relevant and suitable. For example, they could use the insight to select
products or offers that they believe would be relevant to that person.
 Models and insight created by the credit reference agencies can be matched to clients’ own
contact lists so that they can make better informed decisions about how they interact with
individuals.
 They may confirm whether individuals are resident at the address that the credit reference
agencies or their clients hold for them. This can be done by checking the credit reference data
to see if there are any open credit accounts at an address and whether the accounts have
recent activity, such as where a recent payment has been made. If they do, then it is likely
that they have the correct address details. This will help ensure that an individual does not
receive marketing for someone else and the credit reference agencies’ clients do not send
marketing to the wrong address.
 They may trace individuals to a new address so that their marketing preferences (both optins
and opt-outs) collected at a previous address can continue to apply at their new address
and so that marketing is not sent to them at their old address.
 The credit reference agencies may also use credit reference data to help keep their own
marketing suppression lists (or those of their group companies) accurate and up to date. For
example, if you have previously asked to be excluded from marketing activity and your credit
reference data indicates that you have since moved or changed your name, that information
can be used to make sure that you continue to be excluded from marketing activity at your
new address or under your new name.
(i) Profiling, statistical analysis and anonymisation
Credit reference agencies use, and allow their clients to use, credit reference data to carry out profiling
of consumers through statistical analysis. This includes the creation, validation and use of scorecards,
models, and attributes in connection with the assessment of risks relating to credit, fraud, affordability
and debt collection. It is also used in verifying identities, to monitor and predict market trends and to
enable clients to refine lending and fraud strategies, and loss forecasting.
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These practices profile consumers to help determine the likelihood that a consumer with certain
characteristics will act in a way that will produce certain outcomes; for example, to repay credit, to be
able to afford credit, to claim on an insurance policy, to commit fraud, to respond to certain collection
strategies or to become insolvent.
The credit reference agencies may also convert personal data into statistical or aggregated form so
that individuals are not identified or identifiable (thereby creating anonymized data). Anonymized
data is not personal data and the credit reference agencies may use such data to conduct research
and analysis, including to produce statistical research and reports or for any other purposes.
(j) Data management activities
Credit reference agencies use credit reference data to carry out certain processing activities to support
their own business operations. This includes supporting the effectiveness, efficiency and security of
their databases, products and services, both in the context of their credit reference activities and more
widely. For example:
 Data loading: credit reference data is checked for integrity, validity, consistency, quality and
age to help make sure it is accurate. These checks pick up issues such as irregular dates of
birth, names, addresses, account start and default dates, and gaps in status history.
 Data matching: credit reference data is matched to the credit reference agencies’ existing
databases to help make sure it is assigned to the right person, even when there are
discrepancies like spelling mistakes or previous names or different versions of a person’s
name. Credit reference agencies use credit reference data to create and confirm identities,
which they use to underpin the services that they provide.
 Data linking: when credit reference agencies compile data into their databases, they create
links between different pieces of data. For example, people who appear financially associated
with each other may be linked together and a person can be linked with their previous and
current addresses. Also, where someone has an alias, such as a maiden name and married
name, these names will be linked.
 System maintenance and testing: credit reference data may be used when carrying out
system maintenance, repair and testing, and security activity.
Each credit reference agency has its own processes and standards for data management activity.
(k) New development and testing
The credit reference agencies use credit reference data to help develop new products, services and
technologies and to test them. Typically, credit reference agencies will anonymise credit reference
data before it is used for these purposes.
(l) Compliance with laws
The credit reference agencies use and disclose credit reference data where required by law. For
example, this can happen in response to a court order or a request from a regulator, or in order to
comply with a request from a person (or by a third party acting on their behalf), to exercise their legal
rights in respect of the credit reference data, such as by requesting a copy of it.
3. WHAT ARE THE CREDIT REFERENCE AGENCIES’ LEGAL GROUNDS FOR HANDLING CREDIT
REFERENCE DATA?
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Data protection law requires the credit reference agencies to always have what is referred to as a
“lawful basis” (i.e. a reason or justification) for processing personal data. There are a number of lawful
bases available, but the majority of credit reference agencies’ activity is on the basis that:
 the processing is necessary to pursue the legitimate interests of the credit reference agencies
and third parties (such as their clients), and those interests do not unduly prejudice the rights
and freedoms of individuals; or
 the processing is necessary to comply with a legal obligation binding on the credit reference
agencies.
For information about any other lawful basis relied on by each credit reference agency, please review
their individual information notices (see section 14).
Legitimate interests
The credit reference agencies use credit reference data to pursue their legitimate interests, those of
their clients and those of individuals. The following table explains these legitimate interests. The credit
reference agencies have carried out assessments and have concluded that these interests are not
overridden by the interests or fundamental rights and freedoms of individuals.
Interest Explanation
Promoting responsible lending and helping to
prevent over-indebtedness
Responsible lending means that lenders only sell
products that are affordable and suitable for the
borrowers’ circumstances. This is in the interests
of borrowers so that they do not become
burdened with debt that they cannot afford to
repay, and the stress associated with that. It is
also in the interests of lenders in that it reduces
bad debt and collections activity.
Credit reference agencies facilitate responsible
lending by providing services that allow lenders
to access information about a person (and
anyone with whom they have a financial
association, such as a joint account), including
how they are managing current debt, have
managed debt in the past and whether they
have sufficient income to repay the debt.
Helping prevent and detect fraud, money
laundering and validate and verify identity
Credit reference agencies provide identity, antifraud
and anti-money laundering services to
help clients meet legal and regulatory
obligations. These services benefit individuals by
facilitating prompt access to services through
identity verification, and helping to protect them
against fraud, and other criminal activity.
Prevention and detection of fraud, money
laundering and other criminal activity is in the
legitimate interest of the credit reference
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agencies and their clients. It is also to the benefit
of wider society and therefore in the public
interest.
Customer and data management activities for
the benefit of consumers and businesses.
Credit reference agencies provide services which
help businesses maintain the quality of the data
they hold and to make informed decisions about
how they engage with their customers.
It is in the legitimate interests of the credit
reference agencies to offer these services to
their clients but it is also in the legitimate
interests of both the consumer and businesses
by helping ensure that data held is accurate,
comprehensive and up-to-date and that
informed and responsible decisions can be made
particularly in the context of lending decisions.
Supporting tracing and debt recovery Credit reference agencies provide services that
support tracing and collections where the client
has a legitimate interest in conducting activity to
find its customers and to recover debt, or to
reunite, or confirm that an asset relates to the
right person.
Enabling landlords to check the suitability of
their prospective tenants
Credit reference agencies enable landlords to
verify some of the information provided by their
prospective tenants, as well as confirming that
they are who they say they are and that they are
likely to be willing and able to pay their rent on
time. This helps the landlord to decide whether
to agree to the tenancy, or how much of a
deposit they should ask for; and it reduces the
risk that the tenancy relationship will
subsequently break down. It also helps tenants
to avoid getting into legal difficulties where they
have agreed to pay rent that they cannot afford.
Enabling employers to check the suitability of
their current and prospective staff
Credit reference agencies enable employers to
verify some of the information provided by their
staff and job candidates and confirm that they
are who they say they are. They also enable
employers to assess whether the staff member
or candidate has a history of managing their own
financial commitments well, or whether they are
financially compromised. This can help reduce
the risk of fraud and can help the employer to
decide whether the person is or would be a
suitable member of its staff. All of which is in the
legitimate interest of those employers.
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Enabling insurers to calculate and price risk
more accurately
Credit reference agencies enable insurers to
consider certain kinds of credit reference data
when they are assessing risk. This data can help
the insurer decide whether to provide cover to a
person, and how much the insurance premium
should be. This enables them to better forecast
their future liability and to price their insurance
products more accurately and competitively. For
consumers, it means that insurance policies are
priced more fairly, with the lowest-risk
individuals paying less for their insurance.
Supporting compliance with legal and regulatory
requirements
Credit reference agencies’ services may be used
by their clients to help them comply with their
own regulatory obligations, for example,
complying with anti-money laundering
obligations and regulations set by the FCA which
require lenders to assess the creditworthiness of
individuals who apply for loans. This is in the
legitimate interest of clients.
Further, these regulatory obligations are in place
in the interests of wider society, so facilitating
compliance with them indirectly benefits society
as a whole, which is in the public interest.
Promoting responsible, efficient and informed
marketing activities for the benefit of consumers
and businesses.
Credit reference agencies provide services to
support organisations in ensuring that their
marketing strategies are responsible, informed
and efficient. This helps them to reduce waste
(driving costs down and increasing competition)
and avoid sending communications to
individuals who are less likely to be interested in
receiving them or who should not receive them.
More information is available from each credit
reference agency about the legitimate interests
relied on for their marketing services activities
by visiting:
Experian:
https://www.experian.co.uk/privacy/consumerinformation-
portal
Equifax: https://www.equifax.co.uk/ein.html
TransUnion:
https://www.transunion.co.uk/legal/privacycentre?#
pc-marketing-services
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Commercial interests It is in each of the credit reference agencies’
legitimate interests to provide the services
described above to its clients to generate sales
revenues.
The credit reference agencies’ use of credit reference data is subject to an extensive framework of
safeguards that balance the legitimate interests set out above with the fundamental rights and
freedoms of the people whose data the credit reference agencies use and share. The framework
includes information given to people about how their personal data will be used and how they can
exercise their rights to obtain their personal data, have it corrected, erased or restricted, object to it
being processed, and complain if they are dissatisfied. It also includes extensive due diligence checks
on clients, robust contractual arrangements and internal data management processes that the credit
reference agencies have in place. These safeguards help sustain a fair and appropriate balance and to
protect the rights and freedoms of individuals.
Legal obligations
In some circumstances the credit reference agencies are required by law to use or share personal data
in particular ways. This happens, for example, when a court, law enforcement agency or regulator
makes a legally binding request or order for disclosure of personal data. It also happens when
individual consumers exercise their rights, for example by requesting a copy of their own personal
data from a credit reference agency.
4. WHAT KINDS OF PERSONAL DATA DO CREDIT REFERENCE AGENCIES USE, AND WHERE DO THEY
GET IT FROM?
Each credit reference agency obtains and uses personal data from different sources, so they often
hold information that is different to some degree from that held by the others. However, most of the
personal data they hold falls into the categories outlined below from the sources described.
Information type Description Source
Identifiers Credit reference agencies hold personal
data that can be used to identify people,
such as name, date of birth, and current and
previous addresses.
They may also hold business data including
name, address and details of shareholders
and directors.
This data is part of some of the
other data sources mentioned
below in this table.
Data about UK postal addresses
is obtained from commercial
sources such as Royal Mail.
Electoral register
data
Credit reference agencies hold information
from the electoral register (also known as
the ‘Electoral Roll’). There are two versions
of this. One is known as the open register
(also known as the ‘Edited Electoral Roll’ or
‘EER’) and can be used for a variety of
purposes including marketing. The other is
the full register which the credit reference
agencies can only use for limited purposes.
This data is supplied by local
authorities across the UK and
the Isle of Man.
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Credit account
performance data
Credit reference agencies receive personal
data about how people are managing to
repay their credit commitments.
The data includes the name of the lending
organisation, the date the account was
opened, the account number, the amount of
debt outstanding (if any), any credit
available (including overdraft limits) and the
repayment history on the account, including
late and missing payments.
This data is provided from banks,
building societies and other
financial services providers such
as credit card companies, home
credit suppliers, credit unions
and hire purchase companies. It
is also provided by utilities
companies, mobile phone
networks, retail and mail order
companies and insurance
companies.
Rental related data Some credit reference agencies receive
personal data about whether people are
managing to pay their rent on time.
The data includes tenancy reference, start
date, end date, rental amount, arrangement
amount and outstanding balance.
This data is provided by social
housing providers and private
landlords.
Bank account
turnover data and
application salary
data
This data includes the name of the
organisation providing current accounts,
current account numbers, sort codes, the
number of account holders, the transactions
made on the current accounts (credits and
in some cases debits), and a figure for
credits on each current account.
Application salary data consists of the salary
declared by a person when they are applying
for credit. It also includes whether that
figure is net or gross, and whether the salary
has been verified (e.g. with copies of salary
slips). This data also includes the date that
an application was made.
This data is provided from
organisations which offer people
current accounts, such as banks
and building societies.
Judgment data Credit reference agencies obtain data about
court judgments and decrees. This may
include, for example, the name of the court,
the nature of the judgment, how much
money was owed, and whether the
judgment has been satisfied.
The government makes court
judgments and other decrees
and administrative orders
publicly available through
statutory public registers. These
are maintained by Registry Trust
Limited, which supplies the data
on the registers to the credit
reference agencies.
Insolvency data Credit reference agencies obtain data about
insolvency-related events. This includes
data about bankruptcies, administration
orders, individual voluntary arrangements,
debt relief orders, sequestrations, trust
This data is obtained from The
Insolvency Service, the
Accountant in Bankruptcy, The
Stationary Office and Northern
Ireland’s Department for the
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deeds and debt arrangement schemes. This
data includes the start and end dates of the
relevant insolvency or arrangement.
Economy – Insolvency Service,
the London, Belfast and
Edinburgh Gazettes and Registry
Trust Limited.
Business insolvency data is
obtained from the London,
Belfast and Edinburgh Gazettes.
Fraud prevention
indicators
This data consists of information which
indicates that an individual has
demonstrated behaviour that appears to be
consistent with that of known fraudulent
conduct. It also consists of information
where an individual has been a victim of
identity fraud, or feels that his or her
personal data is vulnerable due to a breach.
This data is obtained from Cifas,
a not for profit fraud prevention
membership organisation.
Search footprints When an organisation uses a credit
reference agency to make enquiries about a
person, the credit reference agency keeps a
record of that enquiry. This is known as a
‘search footprint’. This includes the name of
the organisation, the date, and the purpose
for which the enquiry was made, for
example, employee vetting.
Credit reference agencies
generate search footprints
automatically when enquiries
are made about a person.
Scores Credit reference agencies and their clients
use credit reference data to produce scores
including in relation to credit, affordability,
fraud, identity, collections and insolvency.
The credit reference agencies
use algorithms known as
‘scorecards’ to produce scores
by running credit reference data
through scorecards.
Similarly, other organisations
create their own scores from
data obtained from the credit
reference agencies as well as
other sources.
Other third-party
data
This data includes phone numbers and email
addresses, data concerning politically
exposed persons (PEPs) and people on
sanctions lists as well as mortality data.
Credit reference agencies
receive this data from reputable
commercial sources under
contracts agreed from time to
time.
Other data credit
reference agencies
create (not already
referred to in this
table)
The credit reference agencies derive certain
data from the credit reference data. For
example:
Summarised and aggregated data: credit
reference agencies can summarise credit
The credit reference agencies
generate this data from the data
sources available to them.
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reference data, for example by providing a
count of the total number of accounts or
judgments a person has, or the total amount
of debt. They can also aggregate data about
different consumers together, for example
to provide an overview of the financial
status of particular postcodes and other
geographical areas.
Address links: when a credit reference
agency detects that a person has moved to
a new house, it may create and store a link
between the old and new address.
Aliases: when a credit reference agency
believes that a person has changed their
name, it may record the old name alongside
the new one.
Financial associations and linked people:
when a credit reference agency believes
that two or more people are financially
linked with each other (for example,
because they have a joint account), it may
record that fact.
Flags and triggers: the credit reference
agencies may create flags and triggers that
they use in their systems to highlight that
certain credit reference data exists or to
summarise that data. For example, if the
credit reference agencies hold fraud data
from the fraud organisation known as Cifas,
they may create a flag indicating this fact.
This flag would highlight to clients that the
data is available and give them the
opportunity to ask for more details.
Data provided by
individuals
themselves
People sometimes provide data about
themselves directly to credit reference
agencies. For example, individuals have the
right to ask credit reference agencies to add
a short statement that will be displayed
when an organisation sees credit reference
data about them. This statement is known
as a ‘notice of correction’ and can be used to
allow the person to explain the reason for an
entry. The right to do this is explained in
section 10 below).
This data is provided directly by
individuals themselves
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If a person exercises any of their other legal
rights, the credit reference agencies will
retain data relating to these activities, for
example, records will be kept of all actions
and correspondence relating to managing
complaints.
5. WHO DO CREDIT REFERENCE AGENCIES SHARE CREDIT REFERENCE DATA WITH?
This section describes the types of organisation credit reference agencies share data with. Before
sharing data with any third party each credit reference agency will, where appropriate, complete its
own due diligence checks to ensure that the organisation is a real business and has applicable
regulatory authorisations in place.
Clients
Credit reference agencies supply their products and services to clients in various sectors, such as
banks, building societies, other credit providers, utility companies, mobile phone companies,
insurance companies, credit report providers, retailers, gaming organisations, tenant and employee
vetting firms, professional services organisations (such as firms of solicitors and accountants), estate
agents, landlords, marketing companies, charities and public bodies such as the police, central and
local government and regulators.
Certain organisations that share financial data with the credit reference agencies are members of
closed user groups which entitle them to receive similar kinds of financial data contributed by other
organisations in the group. These organisations are typically banks, building societies, and other
lenders, as well as other credit providers like utilities companies and mobile phone networks.
Resellers, distributors and agents
Credit reference agencies sometimes use other organisations to help provide their products and
services to clients. To do this, they may provide credit reference data to them so that they can provide
the services.
Service providers
The credit reference agencies may use other external organisations and other members of their own
groups of companies to perform tasks on their behalf (for example, IT service providers, call centre
providers and security service providers). To do this, they may provide or make available credit
reference data to them so that they can perform the tasks.
Fraud prevention agencies
Each credit reference agency is a member of Cifas, a not-for-profit fraud prevention service. Where a
credit reference agency believes that you may have been a victim of fraud, it may share that
information with Cifas so that other Cifas members can access it. This enables them to perform
additional checks when (for example) a credit application is made in your name. Please refer to the
Cifas privacy notice at https://www.cifas.org.uk/fpn for more details.
Regulators
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Regulators can sometimes require credit reference agencies to supply them with personal data. This
can be for a range of purposes such investigating complaints or assessing how well a particular industry
sector is working.
Individuals
People are entitled to obtain copies of the personal data the credit reference agencies hold about
them. Details on how to do this are set out in section 9 below.
6. WHERE IS CREDIT REFERENCE DATA STORED AND SENT?
The three credit reference agencies are all based in the UK and keep their main databases there. They
may also have operations and service providers elsewhere inside and outside the UK and the European
Economic Area, and credit reference data may be accessed from those locations too. Regardless of
where the credit reference data is processed, the credit reference agencies ensure that it is always,
protected by applicable UK and European data protection standards.
While the UK and countries in the European Economic Area all ensure a high standard of data
protection law, some parts of the world may not provide the same level of legal protection when it
comes to personal data. As a result, when a credit reference agency sends credit reference data
overseas it makes sure suitable safeguards are in place in accordance with applicable UK and European
data protection requirements, to protect the data. For example, these safeguards might include:
 Sending the data to a country that has been approved by the European authorities as having
a suitably high standard of data protection law. Examples include the Isle of Man, Switzerland
and Canada.
 Putting in place a contract with the receiving organisation containing terms approved by the
European authorities as providing a suitable level of protection.
 Sending the data to an organisation which is a member of a scheme that has been approved
by the European authorities as providing a suitable level of protection. One example is the
Privacy Shield scheme agreed between the European and US authorities.
More information about the safeguards used by each credit reference agency can be obtained by
contacting them at the contact details in section 1 above.
7. FOR HOW LONG IS CREDIT REFERENCE DATA RETAINED?
Each credit reference agency may retain credit reference data for different periods of time.
Information about each credit reference agency’s retention periods can be found at the following
locations:
 https://www.equifax.co.uk/crain/retention
 https://www.experian.co.uk/legal/crain/data-retention
 https://www.transunion.co.uk/legal/crain-retention
These periods are subject to regular review and may change from time to time.
8. DO THE CREDIT REFERENCE AGENCIES MAKE DECISIONS ABOUT CONSUMERS OR PROFILE THEM?
Decisions about consumers
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Credit reference agencies generally do not make decisions about consumers or tell organisations what
decisions to make about consumers – this is for each organisation to decide. For example, credit
reference agencies do not tell lenders whether to offer credit to consumers; they just provide services
that help those lenders make decisions about consumers. An organisation’s own data, knowledge,
processes and practices will also play a significant role in those decisions.
Credit reference agencies may provide similar services to their respective clients, but these services
may lead to different decisions because (i) each credit reference agency may hold different
information from the others, (ii) each client may place differing importance on some information
compared to others, and (iii) each client may take into account information available to it from other
sources. These are some of the reasons why a person may receive a “yes” from one lender but a “no”
from another.
Scores and ratings
When requested, credit reference agencies use the data they obtain to produce credit, risk, fraud,
identity, affordability, screening, collection and insolvency scores and ratings; these are explained in
section 4 above.
9. HOW CAN A CONSUMER SEE WHAT DATA THE CREDIT REFERENCE AGENCIES HOLD ABOUT THEM?
DO CONSUMERS HAVE A ‘DATA PORTABILITY’ RIGHT IN CONNECTION WITH THEIR CREDIT
REFERENCE DATA?
Data access right
Consumers have the right to find out what personal data the credit reference agencies hold about
them. Each credit reference agency provides more information about access rights on their websites.
Credit reference
agency
How to access your data
Equifax To get your credit report:
https://www.equifax.co.uk/Products/credit/statutory-report.html
To get other information about how to access your personal data:
https://www.equifax.co.uk/ein.html
To make a request by post: Equifax Limited, Customer Service Centre, PO
Box 10036, Leicester, LE3 4FS.
Experian To get your credit report:
https://www.experian.co.uk/consumer/statutory-report.html
To get other information about how to access your personal data:
https://www.experian.co.uk/consumer/contact-us/index.html
To make a request by post: Customer Support Centre, Experian Ltd, PO
BOX 8000, Nottingham, NG80 7WP
TransUnion To get your credit report: https://www.transunionstatreport.co.uk/
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To get other information about how to access your personal data:
https://www.transunion.co.uk/legal/privacy-centre?#your-data-rights
To make a request by post: TransUnion, Consumer Services Team, PO Box
491, Leeds, LS3 1WZ
Data portability right
Data protection legislation also contains a right to data portability. Where it applies, the right to data
portability gives consumers a right to receive their personal data in a standard format. However, this
right only applies when personal data is processed on certain grounds, such as consent. This right does
not apply to credit reference data because it is processed on the grounds of “legitimate interests”. To
find out more about legitimate interests please go to section 3 above.
10. WHAT CAN A CONSUMER DO IF THEIR CREDIT REFERENCE DATA IS WRONG?
When the credit reference agencies receive personal data, they perform lots of checks on it to try and
detect any defects or mistakes. Ultimately, though, the credit reference agencies rely on the suppliers
to provide accurate data.
If a consumer thinks that any personal data a credit reference agency holds about them is wrong or
incomplete, the consumer has the right to challenge it. The credit reference agency will need to take
reasonable steps to check the data, such as asking the organisation that supplied it to check and
confirm its accuracy.
If the data turns out to be wrong, the credit reference agency will update its records accordingly. If
the credit reference agency still believes that the data is correct after completing their checks, they
will continue to hold and use it. Where the data is part of the consumer’s credit report, they can ask
the credit reference agency to add a supplementary statement of up to 200 words explaining their
views about the information. This statement will be supplied to organisations who subsequently
access the information that the consumer has disputed.
To do this, consumers should contact the relevant credit reference agency using the contact details in
section 1 above.
11. CAN A CONSUMER OBJECT TO THE USE OF THEIR CREDIT REFERENCE DATA AND HAVE IT
DELETED?
This section helps consumers understand how to exercise their data protection rights to object to
credit reference data being used by the credit reference agencies and how to ask for it to be deleted.
To understand these rights and how they apply to the processing of credit reference data, it is
important to know that the credit reference agencies hold and process personal information in credit
reference data under the “legitimate interests” basis for processing (see section 3 above for more
information about this), and do not rely on consent.
Consumers have the right to object to the processing of credit reference data by a credit reference
agency. This can be done by contacting the relevant credit reference agency using the contact details
in section 1 above.
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Although consumers have complete freedom to contact a credit reference agency with objections at
any time, under data protection law, a consumer’s right to object does not automatically lead to a
requirement for processing to stop, or for personal data to be deleted.
Because of the importance of the credit referencing industry to the UK’s financial system, and the
important purposes for which the credit reference data is needed (such as supporting responsible
lending, and preventing over-indebtedness, fraud and money laundering) it will be rare that the credit
reference agencies do not have compelling, overriding grounds to carry on using the personal data
following an objection. In many cases, it will not be appropriate for the credit reference agencies to
restrict or to stop processing or delete credit reference data, for example, where the result would be
to hide a poor credit history that could enable a person or organisation to get credit they otherwise
would not be eligible for.
However, as an exception from the general rule described above, all consumers have an absolute right
to object to their personal data being used for direct marketing purposes. If you object to a credit
reference agency using your personal data for those purposes, you can get them to stop by contacting
them using the details in section 1.
12. CAN A CONSUMER RESTRICT WHAT THE CREDIT REFERENCE AGENCIES DO WITH THEIR CREDIT
REFERENCE DATA?
In some circumstances, consumers can ask credit reference agencies to restrict how they use their
credit reference data. Contact details for each credit reference agency are in section 1 above.
This is not an absolute right and processing will only be restricted if certain conditions are met (for
example, if the processing is unlawful or the personal data is no longer required by the credit reference
agencies for the purposes for which it was obtained).
Even where a restriction condition is met, a consumer’s personal data may still be processed (and
shared) by the credit reference agencies where certain grounds exist. These are:
 with the consumer’s consent
 for the establishment, exercise, or defence of legal claims
 for the protection of the rights of another natural or legal person
 for reasons of important public interest
The credit reference agencies will consider and respond to requests they receive, and will assess
whether any of the restriction conditions apply and, if they do, whether there are any grounds that
permit the continued processing of the personal data.
Given the importance of complete and accurate credit reference data, for purposes including for
example for responsible lending and preventing over-indebtedness, fraud and money laundering, it
will usually be appropriate for the credit reference agencies to continue processing credit reference
data on the basis of protecting the rights of another natural or legal person or for reasons of important
public interest.
13. WHO CAN A CONSUMER COMPLAIN TO IF THEY ARE UNHAPPY ABOUT THE USE OF THEIR CREDIT
REFERENCE DATA?
The credit reference agency
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Each credit reference agency tries to ensure that it delivers the best outcomes for its clients and for
consumers. If a consumer wants to make a complaint to a credit reference agency they can do so by
contacting it at the following addresses.
Credit reference agency Contact details
Equifax Post: Equifax Limited, PO Box 10036, Leicester LE3 4FS
Email: complaints@equifax.com
Phone: 0333 321 4043 or 0800 014 2955
Experian Post: Experian, PO BOX 8000, Nottingham, NG80 7WP
Email: complaints@uk.experian.com
Phone: 0344 481 0800 or 0800 013 8888
TransUnion Post: TransUnion, One Park Lane, Leeds, West Yorkshire LS3
1EP
Email: customer.relations@transunion.co.uk
Phone: 0330 024 7574
Each credit reference agency also has a data protection officer who can be contacted about matters
relating to the protection of personal data at the relevant credit reference agency. The contact details
for each credit reference agency’s data protection officer are:
 Equifax: UKDPO@equifax.com
 Experian: uk.dpo@experian.com
 TransUnion: dpo@transunion.co.uk
The Information Commissioner’s Office
If a consumer is not satisfied with how a credit reference agency has investigated a complaint, the
consumer can refer their concerns to the Information Commissioner’s Office which is the body that
regulates the handling of personal data in the UK. The contact details are:
 Phone: 0303 123 1113
 Post: Information Commissioner’s Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow SK9 5AF
 Website: https://www.ico.org.uk
The Financial Ombudsman Service
Where the complaint relates to an activity which is regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (such
as credit reporting and affordability checks), consumers also have the right to refer the matter to the
Financial Ombudsman Service (Ombudsman) for free. The Ombudsman is an independent public body
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that aims to resolve disputes between consumers and businesses like credit reference agencies. The
contact details are:
 Phone: 0300 123 9 123 (or, from outside the UK, +44 20 7964 1000)
 Email: complaint.info@financial-ombudsman.org.uk
 Post: Financial Ombudsman Service, Exchange Tower London E14 9SR
 Website: https://www.financial-ombudsman.org.uk
14. WHERE CAN CONSUMERS FIND OUT MORE?
The work credit reference agencies do is very complex, and this document is intended to provide only
a concise overview of the key points. More information about each credit reference agency and what
it does with personal data is available at the following locations:
 Equifax: https://www.equifax.co.uk/ein.html
 Experian: https://www.experian.co.uk
 TransUnion: https://www.transunion.co.uk/privacy
The Information Commissioner’s Office also publishes advice and information for consumers in its
Credit Explained leaflet, available at https://ico.org.uk/media/for-thepublic/documents/1282/creditexplained-
dp-guidance.pdf.