/ Money

Who’s been flogging my financial details?

Figure leaning on credit card

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?


Lenders can only access your credit report data with your permission and the data CANNOT be used for marketing. Also, credit reports simply do not show the outcome of your application so the suggestion that this is anything to do with credit report data is borne out of ignorance. As for merging the credit reference agencies, that would be a backward step and anti-competitive. The current competition drives price, innovation and data sharing improvements – all of which is good for consumers, the industry and the wider economy.

It’s the other way around: credit reports don’t show whether applications are successful but they often show why! Reports are also anonymised when lenders look at them so it’s very difficult to match up credit applications with new credit accounts. It takes around four weeks for a new account to show up on a credit report, due to the monthly update cycle, so that clearly rules credit reports out as far as this particular incident is concerned. I suspect coincidence is the actual explanation. On the other issue, be careful what you wish for. History shows us that data is much safer in private rather than public hands, and you only have to look at the government NHS database project to realise that the creation and management of large databases should be left to industry experts. We invest heavily in data security and maintain tight control over who can access your data because our existence depends on it.

Mac Wray says:
11 April 2011

Sounds to me like you’ve become a ‘lead’ and as such you’ve been sold, possibly by the credit card company or more likely by a comparison site. Good piece in Guardian Money the other weekend about this: http://www.guardian.co.uk/money/2011/apr/02/asked-loan-lead?INTCMP=SRCH

You are so right. All this theory of coincedence is utter rubbish. Until these criminals starting facing justice there ain’t going to be any change. Legally you cannot manipulate anyone’s personal information without the person’s consent. I take this quite strongly because I’ve been in your shoe a couple of times. This idea of people twisting real events & try to give things unwarranted positivity is unacceptable. it’s not rocket science for anyone to know your details was sold

Kay Calvin says:
14 March 2014

I just typed “how did vanquis get my financial details?” into google and I got a hit on this article. I have previously applied for a Santander 123 credit card after a friend recommended and referred me. However, I was refused. Today I received in the mail a “Priority Invitation” from Jane Farmer of Vanquis customer services to apply for a credit card. I have moved flats recently and I was surprised that they had my details. Who is selling my data? Is is the bank I applied to or the credit agencies?

lauren says:
10 November 2014

I have just today received a letter from Vanquis offering me a credit card, this has me really concerned as I have NEVER applied for a credit card or loan other than student one, now how did these guys get their hands on my name and address? I have only been in this house for 6 months…. I am feeling very angry and concerned about the growing lack of regard for personal information.

NDT says:
18 May 2015

James Jones of Experian failed to see the big issue. There is no trust between consumers and the finance industry with regard to private information – the examples continue to flow. Suggesting co-incidence is disrespectful. This issue needs to be policed because the law is being broken without fear.

Kasia says:
22 October 2015

I received a letter frim Vanquis today and as a person working (at a very low level) in financual crime I am livid. After spending all day assuring people that my bank doesnt sell information I just realised I got this letter after signing a permanent contract with a bank (!!!) for a position in a Fraud Team(!!!). I havent applied for a card recently, although I already have ona and are happy with it.

This comment was removed at the request of the user