When doorstep lenders or credit card companies start bothering me with inappropriate offers soon after being refused a credit card, I want to know how they got hold of my financial details. Can you help me find out?
I recently applied unsuccessfully for a new ‘super-prime’ credit card. I didn’t take the rejection too personally, as I don’t have a perfect record and moved house fairly recently (a year at one address is usually required). What I didn’t expect was what happened next.
Within a week of being rejected, I received a letter from Vanquis offering me a sub-prime credit card charging 39.9% APR.
I haven’t applied for any other credit cards recently, so can only assume that someone has sold my details to other credit providers. Who was it? The card company, one of the three credit reference agencies (Experian, Callcredit and Equifax) or someone else… Mystic Meg perhaps?
Just a coincidence? Doubt it
When the Vanquis letter arrived, I was angry. I have a good credit score and there’s a huge difference between being rejected for a super-prime card and being offered a sub-prime one instead. And yet, the biggest surprise was still to come. A few days later I received a personalised letter from Provident, offering me a doorstep loan at 272%!
It’s quite a coincidence that I received both of these offers just days after being turned down for a new credit card. I contacted the card company, who told me categorically that they hadn’t sold my details to other companies. So who did? Selling individuals’ details to sub-prime lenders encourages irresponsible and unsustainable lending.
Your credit file shows applications for credit, as well as credit agreements you take out. What it doesn’t do is record why an application didn’t go ahead. Credit reference agencies make much of their profit from selling data to companies. So did they sell mine? I don’t know.
Time to rein in the credit reference industry?
Regardless of my individual case, there’s a clear conflict of interest among credit reference agencies: they make much of their money from selling databases to the credit industry, at the same time as being in charge of updating consumers’ credit reference files. Can that be right?
Maybe it’s time to consider merging the three credit reference agencies and putting them under governmental control to ensure they act solely in the consumer interest?
Which is where I hope you come in – do you suspect that your information has been sold on inappropriately? And do you have any insider knowledge about how card companies and credit reference agencies use consumers’ data?