unauthorised search on credit check?

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Hi, I am at the moment fighting a shortfall claim so I have taken advice from this website and sent away for my credit file. Today I received my credit file from equifax to find that a search from a debt collection agency was registered in july 01, it listed the clients name as: PALATINE (R&D) GRP - 1st CALL PRIV. DET (I had sent to me a postcard from 1st call freight service, see my posting further down! seems a bit of a coincidence doesn't it!) Can they do a credit check on me without my permission? is it worth me serving an SARN on them? Can I use this to fight my shortfall claim?

Thanks to all,

-- dw (dw@lincom.ndo.co.uk), January 17, 2002


My totally unqualified opinion to your DPA question is;

Nobody can issue a credit check on you without authority. It is a clear breach of the DPA, the HRA, the Consumer Credit Act and even your right to privacy.

These people may try to claim that they were acting for the bank that you have a shortfall claim with. But in fact only the bank have a right to issue a credit check against you.

When you enter into a credit agreement there is a clause stating that they can contact Credit Reference Agencies. The banks like to "Assume" that this means they, and their agents, can issue credit checks against you for ever and ever. This is not the case, but it has never actually been proved in court.

There are legal cases on such issues coming before the courts this year. I will post details and updates in these cases when they are completed.

I would suggest to you that the best course of action is;

If you have suffered distress or loss because of this credit check then you need to document this immediatly. Keep all documents, letters, logs of telephone calls, notes of doctors visits, write down what people say to you on the telephone during, or immediatly after, a conversation.

Send a letter to the IC formally requesting an assessment of this credit check. Download the assessment form from the IC web site, or simply send a letter with a bold title of, "Request for Assessment". There is no charge for this.

If the IC rule that the credit check is valid then you do not have a case under the DPA.

If however the IC rule that your rights have been violated, and you have suffered distress, then you have a claim under the DPA in the county court. If you obtain such an assessmentthen you need to contact a solicitor experianced in the DPA.

I can't begin to estimate your costs to pursue this in the courts, and since there are no previous cases and decisions available, I can't estimate what compensation you could hope to receive.

Good Luck.

-- anon (i.hate.abbey.national@another.com), January 17, 2002.

Thanks for the reply, Sorry I don't know who IC are, could anyone tell me their website address? Thanks dw

-- dw (dw@lincom.ndo.co.uk), January 17, 2002.

IC stands for the Information Commissioner. You will find all sorts of detail on this site about them. Their site address is;


and its well worth while having a browse of the IC site. You can also discuss your problem with the IC staff by telephone. They are helpful but very busy, so you might have to hang on for a while. Their number is 01625-545700.

Good Luck.

-- anon (i.hate.abbey.national@another.com), January 17, 2002.

For your information Palatine are a subsiduary of Intrum Justicia who sell on information from the credit reference agencies to Debt Collectors who are unable for whatever reason to obtain accounts with Experian or Equifax or indeed cant be bothered to. The search undertaken by them was not a credit search but a search of public information. A credit search would reveal black and grey data so please try to use the correct terminology. A search of a credit file can be undertaken by a lender which will show previous lending history etc. This has not been undertaken. If you have nothing to hide whats the problem?

-- who knows (locates1st@hotmail.com), February 13, 2002.

"If you have nothing to hide what's the problem"


That well worn phrase has been used throughout history to justify all manner of unwarranted intrusions of privacy and persecutions.

Best Regards,

-- Tony Hayter (Tony@Hayter.com), February 13, 2002.

“Nothing to hide” is not the issue here. It is a violation of your rights for anybody to issue a credit check against you without your prior authority. The Consumer Credit Act and the Data Protection Act both support this principle.

Banks and lenders will have this clearly defined to them later this year in the courts, and they will have to compensate consumers for these flagrant violations. Once the floodgates have been opened then a multitude of consumers are going to be enforcing their rights on this issue.

You can twaddle on all you like about "What do you have to hide?” The fact remains that they are not allowed to do it.

-- anon (i.hate.abbey.national@another.com), February 13, 2002.

utter c**p! a credit search of credit history data has not been undertaken here ... can you not work out the difference. They have conducted a search of public information held by the credit reference agency which is basically Electoral roll, judgements etc etc NOT credit files.... get a life!

-- i know (locate1st@hotmail.com), February 14, 2002.

So, I ask Experian, or Equifax, for a printout of all CREDIT SEARCHES that have been issued against my name.

They provide me with a printout, but you say these are not credit searches, no no no, this is in fact just publically available information about me. When I see a credit search in my credit file printout by a private detective I've never heard about this is nothing to worry about.

Shame that the IC disagrees with you and have issued multiple final assessments stating that my rights have indeed been violated.

I have a life thankyou very much. You need to study your facts a bit more before you speak again.

-- anon (i.hate.abbey.national@another.com), February 14, 2002.

I take exception regarding the comment from locates1st@hotmail.com (or should that be 1stcall@hotmail.com)I have nothing to hide but over the last year I have been trying to clear my credit file of bad debt etc. and then to find that I have had a search done by a debt collection agency + private detectives makes me very angry. The fact that you say it was a search of credit history makes no difference to me it's the fact that a record is now on my file. Could you honestly tell me that if in the future I applied for credit that this record would not be held againt me?

-- dw (dw@lincom.ndo.co.uk), February 16, 2002.

Based on my own experiences in recent years in the UK while working for banks, and on what I've seen from lenders procedures & documents in response to my SARN's, a credit check to Experian or Equifax provides the finance company with;

1, How many credit checks have been issued against you in the past three months, six months and twelve months. 2, Default status indicators on your credit accounts. 3, Associations with your spouse for credit accounts. 4, Past address history. 5, Total amount of credit currently outstanding.

Many credit applications, and insurance claims, are registered at MCL Software. And MCL Software provide a mis-matching facility, so that if you make even an error on your credit application regarding any of your personal details, then the lender is advised that your application/claim has mis-matches compared with previous applications. Its a bit of a industry wide secret society really, sort of super big brother, but you are not supposed to ever know what is going on or what is happening. If you have too much credit outstanding for your salary, age group, marital status, post code, then your credit score is damaged.

Every bank/finance company has a maximum number of credit searches defined, if you exceed their maximum number of credit searches then this will damage your credit score. If you have any defaults on your credit accounts then this will damage your credit score. If the people you are associated with have defaults, or a lot of credit checks, then this will damage your credit score. If you have moved a lot then this will damage your credit score.

What I think we need is a "Consumer finance company rating service". One that consumers can check with if they are thinking of applying for credit. The Home Repo site provides this with regards to mortgage providers, but I think there is certainly room for somebody to provide a forum with lists of problems experienced by consumers with finance companies.

I also think that these credit industry processes should be clearly defined and published. Why on earth should consumers not know what is going to happen if they try to buy even a £20 interest free lawn mower at B&Q?

The whole credit approval process is much too one sided at present in my opinion. It's getting better, but progress to a much more balanced system is slow.

The DPA is the best thing that has ever happened to promote consumers rights in the UK.

Good Luck.

-- anon (i.hate.abbey.national@another.com), February 16, 2002.

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