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Information bureaus are trading enterprises that collect information from various different origins.
Selling this information to creditors and other services in the shape of credit statements helps them determine whether they want to apply for a credit, credit cards or other type of finance or not. We have three large credit bureaus in the UK - Experian, Equifax and CallCredit.
However, under certain conditions, government - both locally and centrally - also has recourse to the information, and this use is likely to increase. How much information is stored about you? Every credit bureau collects different information and thus provides a different credit information. The most important information is your name, date of birthday, your postal and former adress.
For example, whether or not you are on the voters list, whether or not there are judgments of the Regional Courts against you, or whether or not you have been found insolvent. This information may include credit requests (attempts to obtain credit, whether or not they have been successful), creditors you have addressed, credit lines you have and whether you have made correct and timely payment.
This will also show credit and debit balance detail and sometimes even banking balance - but not transaction detail like the particulars of what you bought. Permission for companies to disclose this type of information to third party is usually a prerequisite for obtaining a loan, credit or other service.
As a rule, your recording also shows when someone, you included, performed a credit check on you. Whom can this information be accessed by? They can view your full credit history - and all three allow you to do so, either for free or for a small charge. Of course, the creditors can of course make use of the information when assessing your credit rating.
Also, while your data protection law protects your privacy, the law enforcement authorities may require that information about you be stored. However, "non-public domain" information can only be accessible if the authorities can prove that there is a presumption that someone is engaged in cash or other financial crimes such as cheating.
What do government and municipal bodies already do with this type of information? The three main British agents have all signed agreements with municipal and regional government, which they believe has led to savings of 10 million in social security outlays. Frequent use of the information was made for services used for reasons of isolation, e.g. the individual rebate applied to the municipal income taxes.
Public administrations can check the recipients of these services, and information centres will be noticed if other persons are connected to this particular location - perhaps via banking account, cell phones bill or just via the voter register. It added further information that could also help in identifying other possible scams - for example, if someone who alleged ly had no funds made significant deductions or if a beneficiary had relocated abroad.
The Experian has a scheme to uncover cases of cheating on home subsidy and municipal taxes - which, according to Experian, has been so effective that it is being extended to all 380 UK municipalities. "Humans sometimes make several requests for these advantages, and although they may use different reputations, some of the other information is the same, so we do reconciliations and highlight cases for possible investigations.
" Experian is already working with HM Revenue and Customs to verify the identities of claimants for revenue credit. According to the report, "the first signs indicate that it represents a serious obstacle to serious and opportunist fraud". This type of trawling does not use credit information, but rather restricted information such as address information.
If, however, there is a serious reason to suspect that a particular individual is guilty of performance related frauds or other criminal offences - perhaps following a report - the public authority may require them to have recourse to more comprehensive credit reporting in order to reinforce (or even weaken) their case. Otherwise, how could the information stored by the agency be used?
Of course, the government wants to be proactive and check the creditworthiness of all new beneficiaries. Requesting a service would mean accepting that this information could be verified at the moment of request. "Nobody will be caught off guard if this information is used. "There will be more pre-audits because it is simpler to avoid cheating at this point than to ID him later and then try to get the cash back.
"Individuals have a right to welfare and the government will need to find out how to deal with those uses that are suspected of committing attempts at defraud. "Experian seems to be the largest actor in this sector - estimated to be able to avoid 1 billion pounds of cheating a year. She is in discussions to use her information to help pinpoint possible scammers who claim disability coverage and defraud the rental of public dwellings.
While it does not contain any further detail, it is believed that action could consist of identification of individuals whose lifestyle does not fit their alleged circumstance - for example, through the use of credit cards and refunds. Each agency emphasises that they are committed to privacy laws and that these are very closely respected.
And, given that such information can be accessed by companies such as creditors, the government has argued that there is no need why it should not be able to rely on such information. In order to gain better insight into more detail, federal and municipal government must demonstrate that they have a good basis to believe that someone is cheating on a claim.
"It is not a question of giving unhindered acces to our database so that government agencies can search for their wishes," Mr Munroe told Equifax. It added that there had been "difficult discussions" with government bodies about the type of information that would be provided. "It is for the good of the community, and I think 99% of us will feel good about it when we get it.
" What are the credit agencies' remuneration? However, some report say that they are getting remunerated by the results - which leads to a paper branding the agency as a "bounty hunter". Since Mr. Cameron says that 1.5 billion pounds of the charity fund will be squandered by deceptive demands for taxes and social benefits, the possible reward is high - even if companies get a minute portion of the refunded cash.