One of the items in my spam folder tonight is an email from Experian offering me a free trial for access to 'Credit Expert', so that I can view my credit reference. Obviously, the intention is for me to have the free trial and then pay for this subsequently
(they want my card details when applying for the trial). This reminded me that my credit record currently isn't actually mine, which I think is wrong. I believe that my credit record
should be mine and therefore I should get access to it for free.
Not only that, I also believe that, if we adopted that position, and added to it an obligation on the part of CRAs to contact the subject (us) separately when they get a request for a reference, of any kind, then we could actually cut down significantly
on identity fraud. Currently, they have no such obligation, and rely on the subject's signature on an application form submitted by a financial institution as permission to release the information - even though they don't have any means of checking whether
the request has actually been sanctioned by the right person (since they don't hold a copy of our signatures).
Of course, this would add to application processing costs, and possibly timescales, with regard to credit applications but, if that process significantly reduces credit fraud, I bet the business case would be positive in the end. It could also significantly
impact the instant credit process (except where the sanction could be achieved via e.g. mobile phone) which, in the current situation, might not actually be a bad thing. Doing this would mean that each of us would always know when our record was being accessed
by someone, and would mean that only applicaitons we separately sanctioned would be progressed.
Of course, there would have to be some form of sanction we could give for organisations that required regular access (like credit card companies who receive regular data) but that should be possible by the CRAs obtaining the equivalent to 'standing orders',
for specific banks during specific times, or periods of time.
Our credit records are an important part of our identity. They are being abused by the shadier elements of our society. There should be laws, rules and regulations that give us more control over how they are used.
What do others think?