Credit agencies get ICO all clear

Credit agencies get ICO all clearThe UK’s main credit reference agencies – Callcredit, Equifax and Experian – have all been given a clean bill of health over their understanding of data protection issues, in a report published by the Information Commissioner’s Office.
Between May and August 2014, the ICO undertook reviews at the three main consumer credit reference agencies, which focused on the accuracy of the personal data processed by the agencies.
The report shows the agencies had robust controls in place and understood the importance of data protection. This included areas such as data sharing, staff training and policies and procedures. In some instances, initiatives went beyond compliance to demonstrate good practice.
The reviews did identify certain areas which could be improved, including a review process, to remind organisations supplying data to credit reference agencies of their obligations under the Data Protection Act; a feedback procedure for staff, so they can raise issues with management; and a rolling programme so all the agencies’ clients are audited at least once a year.
The ICO’s head of good practice Louise Byers said: “Many people rely on credit, so it’s unsurprising lenders are the most frequently complained about sector at the ICO. This review should reassure customers that the credit reference industry understands the importance of data protection.
“We were satisfied the credit reference agencies monitored, reviewed and shared personal data to an appropriate standard. Staff received adequate training and they had the appropriate policies and procedures in place.
“This doesn’t mean the industry is perfect, and errors do occur, but we established the appropriate measures were in place to solve them. Where we identified areas for improvement we suggested solutions.”
Steve Martin, head of compliance at Equifax, said: “We were very pleased to co-operate with the ICO’s review, earlier this year, of the systems and staff directly involved in managing our consumer information services. We are fully committed to ensuring only accurate and relevant information is updated and loaded to our databases so that consumers are assessed fairly when applying for credit and other services. We believe this is fundamental to a strong UK economy – enabling organisations to extend credit responsibly and giving consumers the ability to access the credit they can afford.”

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