the facts

Our response to channel 4's
dispatches programme

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Dispatches

Our response

We strongly refute the claims made by Dispatches, many of which were misleading, which is why we chose to appear on the show in person.  We help millions of people every year to access affordable credit quickly and efficiently and in 2013 alone we provided credit reports to more than two million people and answered more than 3.5 million requests to help people to better understand and manage their credit rating and get better credit deals that they can afford to pay back.  We have over 1 million CreditExpert customers, and many more who return to using our service every year because of the value it delivers and the great customer service we provide.

We would like to offer our reassurances to people in regard to the following misleading claims that Dispatches has made:

  • Data accuracy and security have been and always will be our number one priority. We invest millions of pounds every year in improving the quality of the data we hold on behalf of lenders and people.  One mistake is one too many and we’ll always do whatever we can to rectify it.  We’d also like to assure people that the accuracy of our data is of the very highest standards, is extremely secure and in its handling, we strictly adhere with all Data Protection laws.
  • Contrary to Dispatches’ claims about the incidents of data inaccuracy, we believe that the Credit Reference Agency (CRA) industry has an extremely good record when it comes to data accuracy.  For example, although the CRA industry holds financial information on circa 45million individuals, for the year ending 31 March 2010, the number of relevant complaints to the industry regulator, the Information Commissioner’s Office, received was 183 of which only 22 cases were upheld.  More recently, in the period April 2013 to December 2013, the Financial Ombudsman Service received 407,200 complaints, about which only 74 related to the CRA industry as a whole, and of which only 25 were upheld. We actively encourage everyone to regularly check their credit report.
  • The ‘Rapid Update’ process mentioned on the programme is a manual overnight update intended only for correcting significant errors that might, for example, prevent someone getting a loan. It is like a triage system in A&E to make sure the most serious cases are dealt with quickly.  Up until 18 months ago our policy was to recommend to all customers to ask the lender to use this facility. We amended our guidance to staff following feedback from lenders that this was creating customer dissatisfaction because their customers were demanding use of the Rapid Update process when it was not appropriate.  It is the lender’s decision when to apply a rapid update and when not and they found our previous guidance unhelpful in setting false expectations with customers. The service is also free for lenders to use when they make amendments.
  • Additionally, we make it clear that having a lender-like view of your CreditExpert credit report is dependent on providing all the addresses you have lived at for the last six years.  This requirement is marked on our website as people go through the process to either request their £2 statutory report or sign up for CreditExpert. However, we are looking at ways we can make this process even clearer.

As the UK’s largest credit reference agency, for over 30 years we have worked closely with consumers, finance education groups and charities, the media and Government to provide free educational advice and resources on understanding and improving credit reports. 

Without the work of the CRA industry, lending would be riskier and bad debts would increase, the result of which would be an increase to the cost of borrowing for everyone.  Millions of people every year rely on our help and advice and we’re extremely proud to provide this valuable support.

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