I recently wrote a long letter fo complaint to Equifax, as Link Financial are processing my data whilst I am in dispute and they do not have a a valid credit agreement.
I am particularly annoyed because Equifax recorded the information without validating it. I requested that Equifax remove the innacurate information as it is causing me damage and distress.
Here is their response...
Thank you for your recent correspondence received on 05 August 2008, details of which have been passed to me for investigation and resolution.
Link Financial - MBNA
As you are aware, many of the financial institutions within the UK have agreed to share details of their customers' agreements with each other, and this is made possible by storing the credit agreements with one or more of the credit reference agencies.
Although the credit agreements are held by the credit reference agencies, the owner of the information continues to be the financial institution, and not the credit reference agency. The credit reference agencies are unable to amend or delete information, unless they have been advised to do so directly from the data owner.
With reference to your comments regarding the quality of data provided to Equifax by our subscribing clients, we wish to assure you that we carry out multiple validation checks on all credit agreement information supplied, to ensure that the appropriate information has been provided and there is no conflict contained within this information. However, there is certain information which we are not able to indepently validate, as the source of this information is from the supplying financial institution.
I would also advise that the supplying organisation has a responsibility under the Data Protection Act to provide accurate information.
The Notice of Dispute process involves Equifax contacting the subscribing company who has provided the data, and requesting an investigation into the accuracy of the account. During this period, a Notice of Dispute text or flag is registered on your Credit Report, to make anyone viewing your Credit Report aware that the data is currently under Dispute.
In the case of the Notice of Dispute raised on your behalf with Link Financial - MBNA, the response to this dispute stated that the information held on our database is accurate and therefore no amendment is required to this information. Link Financial also stated that the documtation requested was previously provided to you and suggested that any concerns or queries regarding charges incurred on this account should be directed to MBNA.
As regards the revocation of your permission for Equifax to continue to process your data, it is our view, also shared by the ICO, that we are able to share account data between lenders and Credit Reference Agencies for the duration of the contract and for 6 years beyond on the basis of paragraph 6 of Sch 2 of the DPA.
This states "The processing is necessary for the purposes of legitimate interests pursued by the data controller or by the third parties to whom the data are disclosed, except where the processing is unwarranted in any particular case because of prejudice to the rights and freedoms or legitimate interests of the data subject."
In your letter you also refer to Section 10 of the Act which, as you state, awards the data subject the right to request that the data controller discontinues the processing and disclosing of his/her data. Section 10 sub-paragraph (1)(a) and (b) states that the processing of such data must be likely to cause the data subject substantial damage or substantial distress, and more importantly that such damage must be unwarranted,
We do not believe that you have established that, or provided specified reasons why, our continued processing of your data has caused you substantial damage or substantial distress and that this is or would be unwarranted. We feel that it would be irresponsible of Equifax to remove your credit history information, as this may result in you being unable to obtain credit, or being given credit which you would otherwise not have been able to obtain, which may in turn leead to over commitment.
For the reasons we have set out above we are not able to remove the defaulted account from our systems. I hope I have adequately explained our reasons for taking this stance. You may want to refer this matter to the ICO.
I note your comments regarding Chapter 29 of the Data Protection Act and in particular, scedule ll, Section 12(1) of the Act which states that "an individual is entitled at any time, by notice in writing to any data controller, to require the data controller to ensure that no decision taken by or on behalf of the data controller which significantly affects that indivual is based solely on the processing by automatic means of personal data in respect of which that individual is the data subject for the purpose of evaluating matters relating to him such as, for example, his perfomance at work, his creditworthiness, his reliability or his conduct."
I would advise, however, that no decision is made by or on behalf of Equifax relating to the above and although Equifax provide your information to potential lenders during an application you make for credit facilities, the decision made as to whether this application be accepted or declined is made solely by the lender concerned. Equifax provided the information registered at an address in your name, after which an automated process may be used by the lenders concerned to assess the above.
Some Credit Lenders use automated Scoring Systems as part of their decision making process. If your application was processed using a Scoring System, the Data Protection Act 1998 entitles you to apply, in writing, to the Credit Lender to have the logic involved in this process explained to you. You can request for your application to be given manual consideration. We would add however that the Act prescribes that this is done within 21 days of the decline decision. This is outlined in subsection 2 of the aforementioned section 12 which I have included below for your convenience
"(a) the data controller must as soon as reasonably practicable notify the individual that the decision was taken on that basis, and
(b) the individual is entitled, within twenty-one days of receiving that notification from the data controller, by notice in writing to require the data controller to reconsider the decision or to take a new decision otherwise than on that basis"
Alternatively the addition of a Notice of Correction to your address will automatically refer any search carried out on your information at this address for manual review; however I would advise that these methods will prevent all information from being assessed as part of an automated processing and will not prevent just remove one account from this process.
For your information a Notice of Correction is a service available to you within the Consumer Credit Act 1974, Section 159. This is a statement of up to 200 words written by you. What you say is up to you, but bear in mind that Credit Lenders are looking at your Credit Report to help them decide whether to lend you money, etc. Any lenders searching your file in the future will see and be able to consider the content of your statement.
Equifax can refer your Notice of Correction to the Office of the Information Commissioner for adjudication, if we think it is incorrect, defamatory, fivolous, scandalous, or is for any other reason un suitable.
You can apply for Add a Note / Notice of Correction by completing the Ask a Question form located at www.myequifax.co.uk
Alternatively a Notice of Correction may be submitted to Equifax by post.
I hope the above is of assistance.
Mandy Russell - Customer Relations