The Data We Obtain

We obtain data compliantly from a variety of sources to help build marketing products and services which have positive outcomes for consumers and citizens.

Our data sources include: data partners we trust (most of whom we have worked with for many years); Government sources; publicly available data; consumer and market research surveys; and Experian’s credit bureau.


To provide the marketing services our clients use to communicate with you more effectively and to provide you with products and services that are relevant, we obtain two categories of data:

Personal data – any piece of information that can be used to identify you, such as your name and postal address

Non-personal data – this is data that can't identify you, either because it's only available for households, properties or geographic areas or because it is individual level data where any personal data that can identify you has been removed. This means it has been anonymised. An example is Office of National Statistics Census data from 2011, which is available for small geographic areas, each of which contain approximately 150 households.

The sections below provide more information about the sources of each of these categories of data.


Personal Data

While much of the data we obtain does not relate to individuals but rather to households, properties or geographic areas, the data we receive, and process may include your personal data.

At Experian we know that it’s our responsibility to treat any personal data we hold about you with respect. It’s up to us to protect it, tell you how we are going to use it, and make it easy for you to tell us not to use it if you wish.

What is personal data?

Personal Data means any piece of information that can be used to identify you.

Obvious examples of personal data might include your name and postal address, an email address or date of birth.

However, even ‘online identifiers’ such as IP addresses and cookie IDs could be personal data. In a world where our lives are increasingly lived ‘online’, we are all creating digital identifiers - when you’re exercising, listening to music online, messaging friends or doing anything that involves a smartphone or connected device. Your fridge, car or washing machine can now be hooked up to the internet - all of these could be personal data when linked to other data about you.

Personal data may also include special categories of personal data, such as ethnic origin, religion or sexual orientation. These are considered to be more sensitive and organisations may only process them in more limited circumstances, and with additional protections for you.

Your data rights

Data protection law ensures that your personal data is used properly and legally by the organisations you share it with. This means you have Rights in relation to your personal data, including a right to stop us processing your data for direct marketing purposes (often called “opting out”) and a right to see what personal data we hold on you.

We respect these Rights and aim to be transparent in making them clear to you so that we can give you control over your data.

You can read lots of information on your rights on our Your Data Rights page, and particularly on how to opt out:

    Opt out    

Safeguards to protect your personal data

We have many safeguards in place to ensure we protect your data and treat it responsibly. These include collecting and storing the minimum amount of data required, keeping your information secure and retaining this only for as long as we need it.

You can find out more about our safeguards, including more details on the retention periods that apply to each category of personal data on our Responsible Marketing page.

Personal data we obtain

We do not collect personal data directly from you but obtain it from several sources. To help our clients send you marketing communications, our marketing database brings these sources of data together, ensuring that the data is cleaned, names and addresses properly formatted and validated as being current and relevant industry, third party commercial and internal suppression files applied to screen out individuals who do not wish to be subject to marketing or can’t respond.

The personal data we hold is sourced from:

a) Third party partners for marketing data

We work with a small number of partners who actively collect personal data from consumers (and who, therefore, have direct contact with you already) and where appropriate notice has been given to you for them to pass your information to Experian for use in our marketing products and services. These partners collect data through channels such as lifestyle surveys and clubs, competition and money saving / offer websites.

  • To find out more, including the personal data we obtain from our data partners click here
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    We obtain relatively little actual personal data from our data partners and this consists of:

    • Contact data — name, postal address, email address and mobile phone number. We only take contact data from these partners where permission exists for contact for marketing purposes through the relevant channel(s) e.g. by post or email (see the section on our Prospect Services on our Products and Services page). Note that Experian does not provide landline or mobile numbers to organisations to be used for telemarketing or SMS marketing for prospecting for new customers, as we recognise the intrusiveness of telephone and mobile channels when used for this marketing activity.
    • Date of birth - this is your self-reported data and will have been shared by some of our data suppliers who collect this information and where appropriate permissions exist to pass this on to third parties like Experian.
    • Home and motor insurance renewal dates – this is your self-reported data and will have been shared by some of our data suppliers who collect this information and where appropriate permissions exist to pass this on to third parties like Experian.

    Experian Marketing Services’ current list of marketing data providers is:

     Source Name  Address
     Data Mixx Ltd   The Old Barn, Lower Eashing, Godalming, GU7 2QF
     Ideal Media Today Ltd  3 Cook Court, Pacific Business Park, Cardiff, CF24 5AB
     My Offers Ltd  46 Gillingham Street, London, SW1V 1HU
     Omnis Data Ltd  Calder House, Sowerby Bridge, Halifax, HX6 2AG
     PDV  Sunningdale, Belfry Business Park, 13 Colonial Way, Watford, WD24 4WH
     Tele Prospects Ltd   2nd Floor, Mander House, Mander Centre, Wolverhampton, WV1 3NH

     

    We can help you understand whether your details are on our prospect marketing file, and if so from where we obtained the data. Find out more by clicking on the button below:

    Am I on your marketing file?

b) Third party partners for suppression data

Suppression data has several purposes but is essentially personal information about individuals (such as the name, address and/or telephone number) whose details should be removed from a contact database, for example from a database of names and addresses intended for a postal marketing campaign.

These records may need to be removed because:

  • they are no longer accurate, for example where it is known that an individual no longer lives at that address
  • an individual has passed away
  • an individual has expressed a preference to be excluded from marketing

Our clients use suppression data to either remove records from their files, or to flag their data where a match has occurred, so this can be imported back into their marketing database and acted upon. We also use suppression data when building our own products and services.

Responsible use of suppression files by organisations...

  • ensures that our records and those of our clients are fully up-to-date and accurate, ensuring that consumers receive the communication intended for them; and avoids mis-directing communications that are sent by our clients.
  • prevents further distress for families of deceased individuals by minimising further marketing communications to that individual
  • ensures that any marketing preferences expressed by an individual, for example to not receive direct mail or telephone marketing, are respected by organisations who are sending marketing campaigns.
  • For more information on the third-party suppression files we use, click here
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    Our third-party suppression data sets have a number of purposes:

    • Identifying individuals who have moved. Often referred to as “goneaways”, these files are used to accurately identify and validate where individuals have left an address. Our third-party sources of this data include: the National Change of Address (NCOA) - Suppress file from the Royal Mail; Re-mover from The Ark; and the GoneAway Suppression (GAS) file from the REaD Group.
    • Identifying where individuals have moved to. The Royal Mail’s National Change of Address (NCOA) - Update file contains the forwarding addresses of individuals who have registered with the service, enabling organisations to suppress the old address from marketing communications for that customer, and for their records to be updated with their current address in order to maintain, or regain, contact with individuals when they move to a new house.
    • Identifying individuals who are deceased. To prevent further distress to the families of deceased persons, there are several commercial files available to help organisations identify deceased and suppress these individuals from any marketing campaigns or communications. Our third-party sources of this data include: Mortascreen from Wilmington Millennium; The Bereavement Register (TBR) from the REaD Group; and the National Deceased Register (NDR) from The Ark.
    • Identifying individuals who do not wish to be contacted for marketing. Often known as “preference” data, this identifies records where a consumer has joined an ‘opt-out’ list to indicate that they do not want to be contacted via a particular marketing channel. Matched records would be removed from contact files to ensure consumers do not receive unwanted marketing communications via the channels they have specified. These data sets are used by our clients and by Experian. Use of these files by organisations is either recommended best practice or a legal requirement.
      • The Mailing Preference Service (MPS) is run by The Direct Marketing Association and is the official ‘do not mail’ register in the UK. It enables individuals to opt out of unsolicited, personally addressed advertising mail (Consumers can register with the MPS for free). Screening mailing lists against MPS and other mailing suppression files is a condition of DMA membership (to which Experian belong) and is regarded as best practise across the marketing industry.
      • A version of MPS called BabyMPS is also run by The Data & Marketing Association, which enables parents who have suffered a miscarriage or bereavement of a baby in the first weeks of life to register their wish not to receive baby related mailings.
      • The Telephone Preference Service (TPS) is a free service run by The Data & Marketing Association on behalf of The Information Commissioners Office (ICO). It is the official central opt out register on which you can record your preference not to receive unsolicited sales or marketing calls. It is a legal requirement that all organisations (including charities, voluntary organisations and political parties) do not make such calls to numbers registered on the TPS unless they have your consent to do so.

c) Digital marketing partners

We may also obtain information from our digital marketing partners (these include clients, publishers, advertisers) about the electronic devices you have used when visiting their web and app services. This includes the device make, model, operating system, IP address, browser type and mobile device identifiers (where you have given your permission through the acceptance of cookies). In certain circumstances this type of data, when linked to other data about you, can be regarded as personal data. However, when we obtain this data it cannot identify you as an individual and we use this in our current products and services is in an anonymised way.  

For example, when a visitor goes to a web page or an app, the online publisher makes data available to us such as device type, time of day, geo location and IP Address (both geo location and IP Address cannot identify you as an individual but can locate your device in a certain geographical area). We allocate the location of the device to a grid square (100 metres) and can then attach the dominant Experian segment (e.g. Mosaic) in that grid square to the device. This can help an organisation make informed decisions about how they interact with visitors to their websites in order to drive a differentiated or more relevant online experience for the online user, or to provide more relevant advertising.

d) Public information

We also obtain personal data from publicly available sources, which can often be freely used, reused and redistributed by anyone with no legal restrictions on access or usage.

Within our Marketing Services business we use several sources of public personal data:

1. The Edited Electoral Roll (EER), often called the ‘Open Register’

This is a subset of the full Electoral Register or Electoral Roll (ER) which lists the names and addresses of everyone eligible to vote in each Local Authority in the UK.  

Being included in this ‘Open Register’ means that your name and address is publicly available for anyone to purchase from the Local Authority for any purpose, such as direct marketing. 

Along with data from our data partners, we use the EER - this subset of the ER - within our marketing database for several purposes:

  • For address and age validation 
  • As a source of marketing contact details 
  • For matching, linking and insight 
  • To find out more about the Edited Electoral Roll and how we use it, click here
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    The Edited Electoral Roll (EER), often called the ‘Open Register’ is a subset of the full Electoral Register or Electoral Roll (ER) which lists the names and addresses of everyone eligible to vote in each Local Authority in the UK.  

    Being included in this ‘Open Register’ means that your name and address is publicly available for anyone to purchase from the Local Authority for any purpose, such as direct marketing

    Your name, address and date of birth will be included in the EER unless you ask your local Electoral Registration Office for them to be removed. Note that your date of birth is only required on the electoral forms when the individual is a “young attainer”, and date of birth is declared to show that they will turn 18 in the upcoming year(s).

    When you first register to vote, you can decide to be on the EER, which means that your name and address is publicly available for anyone to purchase from the Local Authority for any purpose, such as direct marketing.  Each Local Authority has their own registration form for the ER and the wording used to explain about the Open Register/EER may vary by Local Authority.

    Along with data from our data partners, we use the EER - this subset of the ER - within our marketing database for several purposes:

    • For address and age validation - to check that the marketing names and addresses that come from our data partners are valid and to remove any individuals who show as under 18 in the EER
    • As a source of marketing contact details - to provide additional names, addresses and date of birth (where this exists on EER) to organisations for postal marketing purposes, to help them find potential new customers.
    • To enable matching, linking and insight - names and address in the EER that we don’t see from any other sources are used for matching and linking our segmentations and modelled data to a client’s existing customer base to provide insight. We also use names and addresses from the EER to provide insight into the ‘make-up’ of the UK population across: age (from date of birth); composition of the household (based on who lives at that address); and length of residency (based on when we first see a record in EER). These pieces of information inform our models and segments which our clients use to create more relevant marketing communications for you.

    You can opt out of your information being held on the EER at any time by contacting your local Electoral Registration Office and are given the opportunity to opt out annually as part of your Local Authority’s Canvass of all households. Your details will then not be included in the Open Register. Removing your details from the Open Register does not affect your right to vote.

    Experian processes the latest version of the EER, including any monthly updates supplied by the Local Authorities.  If you choose to opt out directly with us of Experian processing your data for our clients’ direct marketing purposes, this opt out will always be applied to our marketing database even if your details continue to appear on the EER.

    The Government’s website provides further information on the Electoral Register and the “Open Register”. 

2. The Register of Judgments, Orders and Fines

Sometimes referred to as ‘the County Court Judgment (CCJ) Register’, this is a public register maintained by The Registry Trust, on behalf of the Ministry of Justice, and is available online to be accessed by anyone. It includes England and Wales county and high court judgments, tribunal awards, administration orders, child support agency orders and magistrates courts defaulted fines. Judgments are also held from courts in Northern Ireland, Jersey, Isle of Man, the Republic of Ireland and decrees from Scottish sheriffs courts. Being public data, these registers can be searched by anyone through TrustOnline.

We use the data in Experian Marketing Services for matching, linking and insight.

  • To find out more about this data and how we use it, click here
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    The Register of Judgments, Orders and Fines contains the name and address of the individual concerned, their date of birth (if supplied to the court), the case, court number and date of the particular order and the amount that the court has ordered be paid. Once the case has been resolved, the Register will be updated to also include this fact.

    We use the data in for matching, linking and insight:

    • Names and address in the file that we don’t see from any other sources are used for supplementing our view of the identities of the UK Adult population
    • We append our segmentations and modelled data to this view, which can then be used to match to a client’s existing customer base to provide insight.
    • We use names and addresses from the data, alongside other sources of names and addresses, to help provide insight into the ‘make-up’ of the UK population across: composition of the household (based on who lives at that address); and length of residency (based on when we first see a record in the CCJ file). These variables inform our models and segments so that what we build for our clients can drive more relevant marketing communications for you.
    • It informs our credit marketing suppression product which enables us to uphold responsible lending by screening out marketing contact details from any marketing activity where the financial services being offered are inappropriate to the circumstances of the individual.

3. Register of Directors

Publicly available, the Register of Directors is an official list of the directors of a company that is by law sent to Companies House, where details of all companies are kept.

We use this data to identify names on our marketing file where the individual is a director of an organisation (where the director has provided their home address to Companies House). 

  • To find out more about the Register of Directors and how we use it, click here
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    While the Companies Act requires company directors to provide their usual residential address, it is not shown on the public record and only made available to credit reference agencies and specified public authorities. Should a Director choose to register their residential address as their service address, registered office or subscriber address then it will always appear as a part of the public record even if changed at a later date.

    We use this data to:

    • Flag names on our marketing file to identify where the individual is a director of an organisation (where the director has provided their home address to Companies House).  Additional insight into the size of the company (either > or < than 50 employees) is also appended from the Experian’s business marketing file.  
    • Names and address in the file that we don’t see from any other sources are used for supplementing our view of the identities of the UK Adult population and used for matching and linking purposes.

4. BT “Phone Book”

Ofcom, the UK's communications regulator, have an obligation to ensure that UK consumers have access to telephone directory and directory information services and have the right to be listed in directories. Centrally administered by BT Wholesale, BT’s OSIS (Operator Services Information System) database is the principal database for telephone directory information (and is effectively an electronic version of the “Phone Book”). Customers of the Communication Providers provide their consent for their telephone number details to be included in the directory.

The OSIS data is licensed by Experian so that the file can be used by our clients to validate phone numbers that they already hold against an individual.  We do not change the nature of the BT OSIS file, only matching it to client data as instructed by the client. It is not used in the build of any of our products.

e) Credit activity data

We do use some information from our credit reference business for the following purposes:

  1. Address and age validation and ensuring data accuracy
  2. Insight and modelling to help our clients can drive more relevant marketing communications for you
  3. Matching and linking our modelled data and segments to a client’s existing customer base to help them communicate with you more relevantly.
  4. Responsible and relevant marketing by screening out contact details from any financial marketing activity which might be inappropriate to the circumstances of the individual.
  • For more information on each of these uses, click here
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    In detail, the information from our credit reference business is used in our Marketing Services business for the following purposes:

    1. Validation and ensuring accuracy- validating marketing names and addresses we see from our data partners to ensure that, as far as possible, these contact names and addresses belong to an individual aged 18+. This reference data also helps to keep our clients’ data accurate, for example by helping to ensure communications are not sent to people at incorrect addresses or to individuals who have passed away; and that we have accurate Titles and Forenames for individuals. This all helps to protect you against fraud by ensuring that communications intended for you, reach you.
    2. Insight and modelling- into the ‘make-up’ of the UK population for characteristics across age, gender, number of adults in a household, composition of the household and length of residency. These variables inform our models and segments so that what we build for our clients can drive more relevant marketing communications for you.
    3. Matching and linking- matching our modelled data and segments to a client’s existing customer base to help them communicate with you more relevantly (where they have appropriate permissions to do so) and linking together separate address records which an organisation might hold on you and removing duplicated to create a more accurate record for you. This helps our clients to create a better and more consistent marketing communication experience for their customers.
    4. Responsible and relevant marketing- through an understanding of a person’s financial history, we enable our clients to uphold responsible lending by screening out marketing contact details from any marketing activity where the financial services being offered are inappropriate to the circumstances of the individual.

    For avoidance of doubt, outside of confirming an individual is over 18 or resident at the provided address through the presence of a recent active account at the address (1. above), an individual’s financial data is only used for creating credit marketing suppressions to enable responsible marketing (4. above). The only data from the credit activity data used across the other uses are identities (names and addresses) and date of birth. Names and addresses from the credit files are never used to identify or send marketing materials to potential new customers.

The Credit Reference Agency Information Notice (CRAIN) is a processing notice which Experian has developed with the other UK credit reference agencies, with input from the Information Commissioner’s Office and several financial services trade associations. CRAIN (in conjunction with the Information Pages provided on this website) helps to explain these purposes.

Special Category Data

Special category data is personal data which the law says is more sensitive, and so needs more protection.

This refers to data about:

  • Racial or ethnic origin
  • Religious or philosophical beliefs
  • Trade union membership
  • Health or sex life
  • Sexual orientation
  • Genetic data
  • Biometric data
  • Political opinions

No “special category “personal data is obtained or processed by Experian Marketing Services in the creation of our own products and services.

We do, however, work with responsible organisations including those in the public sector and political organisations who use our marketing products and services to improve the relevancy of the messages they send you. These organisations may have collected special category data that they ask us to process on their behalf.

  • For more about how we might process special category data on behalf of our clients, click here
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    We host customer marketing databases on behalf of some of our clients, so we could process special category data provided to us by our clients (if they have it on their database) and they have instructed us to do so. For example, we do host campaign databases for political organisations, which contain political opinions of individuals collected by the political organisations. In all cases, any special category data processed on behalf of any political organisation client is done so under contract only for that client, on their instruction, and is not processed or used in any of Experian Marketing Services' marketing products and services. It is protected by strict Experian data security controls.

    Whilst not personal data, we use aggregated and anonymised information from public data sources and market research surveys on some special category themes as part of the many measures we use to inform how segmentation clusters like Mosaic are described. For example, the UK Census is accessible to anyone through the Office of National Statistics (ONS) website and contains information on topics such as ethnicity, religious beliefs and health (to name a few). However, this data is available from the ONS website only for geographic areas, for example for Census Output Areas, which contain an average of 150 households.

Data relating to children

In data protection regulation (the GDPR), the age of consent, i.e. when a child is required or able to give their consent for the processing of their own personal data, is 16 years of age, although EU member states are allowed to allocate their own age of consent, provided that this does not fall below the age of 13. In the UK, the age at which individuals are considered capable of giving consent is 13.

In our Marketing Services business, when we obtain personal data obtained from our third-party commercial data partners, we do not knowingly obtain or process data about individuals under the age of 18. While we insist that the personal data we receive from our data partners should only relate to individuals aged 18+, through our internal verification processes we take additional steps when this data comes into Experian to check that any personal data we handle relates only to UK adults aged 18+.

Whilst we do not knowingly process data that identifies any child under 13, we do process data from the Edited Electoral register that relates to “young attainers” – 17-year olds who are approaching the legal voting age.

  • Click here to find out more
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    The electoral register of voters contains information about several hundred thousand seventeen year olds (known as “attainers“), and personal data on these data subjects is processed by us.

    For our marketing services, we only use an extract of the full Electoral Roll, called the Edited Electoral Roll. Your name and address will be included in the edited version unless you ask for it to be removed and any organisation is permitted to use the edited electoral roll for marketing activities. We use the data to provide the name and addresses to clients for postal direct marketing and only those aged 18 or over are included within our prospect marketing database.

We do obtain and process data about the presence and age of children in a household.

  • Click here to find out more
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    Whilst we do not process personal data that can identify a child, we do obtain and process data about the presence and age of children in a household. Sources of this data are:

    • Market research surveys which we use to build models of the likelihood that a household has children and, if so, the likely age of children in the household, which is always banded into broad age ranges e.g. 0 to 5 years. These models help our clients, where appropriate, to ensure that more relevant products and offers are marketed to adults - for example that a 2 for 1 entrance to a theme park is offered to parents / carers who are likely to have children.
    • Pregnancy Club and Baby Club data. We work with an organisation called Emma’s Diary who offer pregnant women and new parents health advice, offers and free samples. Where appropriate permission has been given by the parent, this data is also provided by Emma’s Diary to third party organisations who wish to provide relevant marketing to this group of individuals.

    This data is not used in our models or added to our marketing database. Data is only provided on a client-by-client basis, and we no longer offer this data to new clients.

Non-Personal Data

Much of the data we obtain does not relate to individuals but rather to households, properties or geographic areas. Using statistical techniques, Experian uses non-personal data sources to build models to indicate the likelihood a household or geographic area exhibits certain characteristics and behaviours. For example, the likelihood of there being children present in the household, or the likelihood an area has lots of people who might visit a retail fashion outlet.

What is non personal data

This is data that can't identify you. This might be because:

  1. it's only available for households, properties or geographic areas. For example, the Government’s Office of National Statistics produce lots of official statistics which do not identify an individual, but which are provided at various levels of geography and available to be used by all organisations.
  2. when originally collected, the data might have been personal data where an individual could be identified, but when provided to other organisations any personal information that can identify you has been removed. This means it has been anonymised.

Lots of organisations use statistical techniques ('analytics') to identify patterns in behaviour across their customer base. For example, if a retailer uses data which contains a customer’s name and address along with transaction history to create insight into trends and behaviours across the whole customer base, it is not necessary to know who the individual is, so the name and address can be removed leaving anonymised data to be used in the analytics process.

Non-Personal data we obtain

Experian Marketing Services obtain a wide variety of non-personal data from several sources to build our products and services, which provide marketing insights to our clients. These sources include Government sources, publicly available records, surveys and market research and data from commercial organisations.

  • To find out more about these sources, click here
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    The sources of non-personal data that we obtain to build our products and services include:

    1. Government sources, such as UK Census data from the Office of National Statistics, providing aggregate statistics on geographic areas for characteristics such as household composition, car ownership, employment status and dwelling type; and anonymised vehicle data at postal sector level from the DVLA, including details such as make and model of vehicle (e.g. number of Ford Mondeo’s in CV32 5).
    2. Publicly available records, such as the Crime Survey for England and Wales, available from the Office of National Statistics and which includes crime data by category of crime at postcode level from publicly available sources such as police recorded crime ; and Council Tax Band for properties in England and Wales from the Valuation Office Agency.
    3. Surveys and market research, such as self-reported consumer survey information, aggregated consumer panels and market research surveys where data has been anonymised and no individual can be identified. Such surveys provide insight about consumer buying decisions, attitudes, behaviours or lifestyles. They can be produced by Government departments, such as the Living Costs and Food Survey from the Office of National Statistics; or by commercial organisations, such as the surveys conducted by YouGov and the Target Group Index from Kantar Media where we are supplied with anonymised survey responses aggregated to Mosaic segment level.
    4. Commercial businesses who provide non-personal data to organisations for a wide variety of uses, such as the Postal Address File from the Royal Mail and home move triggers data from Whenfresh, which is a property level database providing insight on house sales and rental moves.

Last updated: 30th May 2019