Using your personal data

Our guide to using your personal data, credit reference, and fraud prevention agencies.

A row of laptops lined up on a floor like dominos

 

 

What's a credit reference agency

Credit reference agencies (CRAs) collect and maintain information on consumers' and businesses' credit behaviour on behalf of organisations in the UK.

What's a fraud prevention agency

Fraud prevention agencies (FPAs) collect, maintain and share, information on known and suspected fraudulent activity. Some CRAs also act as FPAs.

Why do you use them when I've chosen to switch to E.ON?

Although you’ve chosen to switch to us we’ll check our own records and contact CRAs to get information on your credit behaviour with other organisations. This’ll help us make the best possible assessment of your financial situation before we make a decision. We’ll do this in a secure and responsible manner, in line with industry standards.

Where do they get the information?

From publicly available information such as:

The Electoral Register from Local Authorities

County Court Judgments from Registry Trust

Bankruptcy (and other similar orders) from the Insolvency Service

Fraud information may also come from FPAs

Credit information comes from information on applications to banks, building societies, credit card companies etc. and also from the behaviour of those accounts.

How will I know if my information is being sent to a CRA or FPA?

You’ll be told when you apply for an account if your application data is to be supplied. The next section will tell you how, when and why we’ll search at CRAs and FPAs and what we’ll do with the information we obtain from them. We’ll also tell you if we plan to send your payment history information on you or your business, if you have one, to CRAs. You can ask at any time for the name of CRAs and FPAs.

Why's my data used in this way?

We and other organisations want to make the best possible decisions we can, in order to make sure that you, or your business, will be able to pay us for the energy you use. Some organisations may also use the information to check your identity, check for outstanding debt, and to ensure that there is no evidence of fraudulent activity within your credit history. We’ll always use this information securely, for the purposes it is intended, and won’t use it for marketing purposes.

In this way we can ensure that we all make responsible decisions. At the same time we also want to make decisions quickly and easily and, by using up to date information, we’re able to make the most reliable and fair decisions possible.

Who controls what agencies are allowed to do with my data?

All organisations that collect and process personal data are regulated by the Data Protection Act 1998, overseen by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO). All CRAs are in regular dialogue with the Commissioner. Use of the Electoral Register is controlled under the Representation of the People Act 2000.

Can anyone look at my data held by CRAs?

No, access to your information is very strictly controlled and only those that are entitled to do so may see it. Usually that will only be with your agreement or (very occasionally) if there is a legal requirement.

Will my data be used for crime prevention?

We may share your data with other organisations for the detection and prevention of crime. Your information will always be processed securely and in line with the Data Protection Act.

What we do

1) When you apply to us to open an account we'll:

a) Check our own records for information on:

i) Your personal accounts;

ii) and, if you've got one, your financial associates’ personal accounts;

iii) if you're an owner, director or partner in a small business we may also check on your business accounts.

b) Search at credit reference agencies (CRAs) for information on:

i) Your personal accounts:

ii) and, if you're making a joint application now or have ever done the following we'll check your financial associates’ personal accounts as well:

- previously made joint applications
- have joint accounts
- are financially linked

iii) if there's insufficient information to enable us to assist you, occasionally we may also use information about other members of your family

iv) if you're a director or partner in a small business we may also check on your business accounts

c) Search at fraud prevention agencies (FPAs) for information on you and any addresses at which you've lived and on your business (if you've got one).

2) What we do with the information you supply to us as part of the application:

a) Information that's supplied to us will be sent to the CRAs.

b) If you're making a joint application or tell us that you've a spouse or financial associate, we'll:

i) search, link and/or record information at CRAs about you both.

ii) link any individual identified as your financial associate, in our own records.

iii) take both your and their information into account in future applications by either or both of you.

iv) continue this linking until the account closes, or is changed to a sole account and one of you notifies us that you're no longer linked.

so you must be sure that you have their agreement to disclose information about them.

c) If you give us false or inaccurate information and we suspect or identify fraud we'll record this and may also pass this information to FPAs and other organisations involved in crime and fraud prevention.

d) We may also use your data to offer you other products and services if you have given your permission.

3) With the information that we obtain we'll:

a) Assess this application to make a decision on products and services that we offer you.

b) Check details on applications for credit and credit related or other facilities.

c) Verify your identity and the identity of your spouse, partner or other directors/partners and/or;

d) Undertake checks for the prevention and detection of crime, fraud and/or money laundering.

e) We may use scoring methods to assess this application and to verify your identity.

f) Manage your personal and/or business account (if you have one) with ourselves.

g) Undertake periodic statistical analysis or testing to ensure the accuracy of existing and future products and services.

h) Any or all of these processes may be automated.

4) What we do when you have an account:

a) We'll give details of your personal and/or business account (if you've got one), including names and parties to the account and how you manage it/them to CRAs.

b) If you don't repay your bill in full, on time, or as arranged we'll tell CRAs.

c) We may make periodic searches of our own group records and at CRAs to manage your account with us. We may also check at FPAs to prevent or detect fraud.

d) If you don't make payments that you owe us, we'll trace your whereabouts and recover debts.

What CRAs and FPAs do

5) When CRAs receive a search from us they will:

a) Place a search “footprint” on your credit file whether or not this application continues. If the search was for a credit application the record of that search (but not the name of the organisation that carried it out) may be seen by other organisations when you apply for credit in the future.

b) Link together the records of you and anyone that you have advised is your financial associate including previous and current parties. Links between financial associates will remain on your and their files until such time as you or your partner successfully files for a disassociation with the credit reference agencies.

6) Supply to us:

c) Credit information such as previous applications and the behaviour of the accounts in your name and of your associates (if there's a link between you – see 1b above) and/or your business accounts (if you've got one).

d) Public information such as County Court Judgments (CCJs) and bankruptcies.

e) Electoral Register information.

f) Fraud prevention information.

7) When information is supplied by us, to them, on your accounts:

a) CRAs will record the details that are supplied on your personal and/or business account (if you've got one) including any previous and subsequent names that have been used by the account holders and how you/they manage it/them.

b) If you don't repay in full, on time, or as arranged, CRAs will record the outstanding debt.

c) Records shared with CRAs remain on file for six years after they're closed, whether settled by you or defaulted.

d) If we owe you monies and are unable to contact you, we may use this information to trace you and credit any monies owed.

8) How CRAs won't use your data:

a) It won't be used to create a blacklist.

b) It won't be used by the CRA to make a decision.

9) How CRAs will use your data:

a) The information which we and other organisations provide to CRAs about you, your financial associates and your business (if you've got one) may be supplied by CRAs to other organisations and used by them to:

i) Prevent crime, fraud and money laundering by, for example, checking details provided on applications for credit and credit related or other facilities.

ii) Check the operation of credit and credit-related accounts.

iii) Verify your identity if you or your financial associate applies for other facilities.

iv) Make decisions on credit and credit related services about you, your partner, other members of your household or your business.

v) Manage your personal, your partner’s and/or business (if you've got one) credit or credit related account or other facilities.

vi) Trace your whereabouts and recover debts or refund credits that we may owe you.

vii) Undertake statistical analysis and system testing.

10) How your data may be used by fraud prevention agencies:

a) The information which we provide to the FPAs about you, your financial associates and your business (if you've got one) may be supplied by FPAs to other organisations and used by them and us to:

i) Prevent crime, fraud and money laundering by, for example;

- Checking details provided on applications for credit and credit related or other facilities
- Managing credit and credit related accounts or facilities
- Cross checking details provided on proposals and claims for all types of insurance
- Checking details on applications for jobs or when checked as part of employment

b) Verify your identity if you or your financial associate applies for other facilities including all types of insurance proposals and claims.

c) Trace your whereabouts and recover debts that you owe.

d) Conduct other checks to prevent or detect fraud.

e) We and other organisations may access and use from other countries the information recorded by FPAs.

f) Undertake statistical analysis and system testing.

11) Your data may also be used for other purposes for which you give your specific permission or, in very limited circumstances, when required by law or where permitted under the terms of the Data Protection Act 1998.

12) Your data may also be used to offer you other products, but only where permitted.

How to find out more

You can contact the CRAs currently operating in the UK; the information they hold may not be the same so it's worth contacting them all. They'll charge you a small fee for the information they provide.

CallCredit, Consumer Services Team, PO Box 491, Leeds, LS3 1WZ or call 0870 060 1414

Equifax PLC, Credit File Advice Centre, PO Box 3001, Bradford, BD1 5US or call 0870 010 0583

Experian, Consumer Help Service, PO Box 8000, Nottingham, NG80 7W or call 0870 241 6212