Credit reference agencies and the use of personal data
Use of personal data
The uses of personal data held by ScottishPower about you are contained in our terms and conditions of supply. This guide is intended to give further explanation about the way in which ScottishPower works with Credit Reference Agencies (CRAs) and Fraud Prevention Agencies (FPAS) and how that may affect you.
You can view the full terms and conditions of supply within the ScottishPower website.
A further leaflet on the use of your personal data by ScottishPower and Credit Reference and Fraud Prevention Agencies can also be found on the website.
Why does ScottishPower use this data?
ScottishPower uses CRAs in order to better understand the products and services that are best suited to you. This enables us to make instant decisions about the way we manage our service to you. We also use the data to trace customers who move home and forget to tell us of their new address. Should you disagree with any decision we make, you can ask to have a manager make a personal review of your situation.
When you join ScottishPower, or when you change your services with us, we may review our records and those held by CRAs and FPAs.
Occasionally we may ask about your partner e.g. if you are making a joint application. We may share this with the CRAs and they may link you together. It is therefore important that you have your partner’s agreement to disclose any information about them.
We may also make credit searches in the management of your account with us or in the course of collecting debts from you. This may include tracing your whereabouts in order to recover any arrears.
When we use CRAs to search for a credit score or to trace a customer, they will place a ‘score’ or ‘search’ footprint on your credit file which may be seen by other lenders and organisations. Depending upon individual circumstances, this may have a positive or a negative impact on another lender's opinion.
Sharing data with credit reference agencies
One of the uses of data in our terms and conditions is sharing payment data with the CRAs. Any data that we supply to the CRAs is required to be accurate, up to date and meet agreed quality standards.
You should pay your bills within a reasonable time to avoid arrears building up. Should you experience difficulty meeting the cost of your energy consumption, it is best to contact us as we may be able to help you. If you do not pay your bills then over time the level of arrears will increase, which may result in ScottishPower taking some form of action. This could include ScottishPower notifying the CRAs that payment for the energy supply has “defaulted”.
The purpose of reporting arrears is to indicate that a customer is showing signs of potential financial difficulty.
As a general guide, this may occur when you are at least 3 months in arrears with your bills and normally before you are 6 months in arrears. Additionally we may record a default if:
- We take steps to disconnect your service.
- Your account is in arrears and we receive an indication that you have left your property without notifying us and either setting up a payment arrangement or paying in full the final bill.
- There is evidence of fraud or theft.
We will send a letter to you at least 28 days before doing so, in order to give you time to make a payment or reach an agreed arrangement.
If ScottishPower does report an account as in default, we will report the default amount and the default date to the CRAs. Once the arrears are paid in full, the CRAs will be told that the default is ‘satisfied’.
A default will remain on your credit file for six years from the default date. This is in line with agreed procedures that apply to all defaults registered with CRAs and has been agreed with the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO). We can only arrange to have a default removed if it is shown to have been registered in error.
View The Financial Conduct Authority information sheet on defaults.
If we agree to a payment arrangement, but you fail to make the agreed payment against the terms, we may then file a default as soon as a payment is missed, as long you were at least 3 months in arrears on the original bill.
If you have already been defaulted and subsequently set up a payment arrangement, defaulted arrears may continue to be reported until the debt is repaid. Once the debt has been repaid, the CRAs will be notified that the default is satisfied.
If we agree to accept a lesser sum in full and final settlement of an account that has been defaulted, we will amend the report to the CRAs to show that the account has been ‘partially satisfied’.
CCJS, Decrees, Bankruptcies, IVAS etc.
If a default has already been filed and a CCJ or other Insolvency is subsequently registered, we may report this information. The Default will remain on file with the CRAs. However, once the bankruptcy or such is over, you should inform ScottishPower and we will mark the account as ‘partially satisfied’.
Background to credit reference agency data
The use of this style of personal data by ScottishPower is controlled by the Data Protection Officer in conjunction with the Credit Risk Manager.
You can be given more specific detail of how your data is used by us, CRAs and FPAs by writing to: Data Protection Officer, ScottishPower Energy Retail, Cathcart Business Park, Spean Street, Glasgow G44 4BE.
Credit reference agencies
CRAs hold databases of debts and payments on products offered to consumers and businesses that relate to financial commitments; these will include credit agreements, such as mortgages, loans, credit cards or current accounts, and other commitments such as energy payments.
Information about the limits, balances and how these agreements are managed, are shared by the providers with CRAs. They in turn can provide a copy of your credit reference file to other organisations to be used, by them, to help make decisions about you or your business (if you have one).
Your credit reference file may only be used for agreed and specific purposes and may only be seen by those who are entitled to see it. The use of your information by CRAs is subject to strict rules, controls and security measures.
You can see a copy of your credit file from the CRAs if you make a request to them and pay a small fee. There is specific legislation which sets out what must be supplied and how quickly the file must be sent to you.
- Call Credit, Consumer Services Team, PO Box 491, Leeds LS3 1WZ or call 0870 0601414.
- Experian, Consumer Help Service, PO Box 8000, Nottingham NG80 7WF or call 0844 481 8000.
- Equifax Ltd, Customer Service Centre, PO Box 10036, Leicester, LE3 4FS or call free on 0800 014 2955.
The operation of CRAs in the UK is licensed by the Office of Fair Trading. However, the principle legislation is the Data Protection Act 1998, for which the Regulator is the Information Commissioner’s Office (the ICO - www.ico.org.uk).