Did existing card provider have permission to check my credit report?

Dear James,

I recently repaid the balance on my Barclaycard. I have had this card for a long time. I then received a letter from Barclaycard advising that they had reduced my limit because of information provided by credit reference agencies. I did not request an increase in my facilities and I did not give my authority to carry out a search. Is this in order? I wrote to them and asked them for a copy of my authority and they advised in writing that they are entitled to carry out searches. I understand that when I am applying for credit, I need to give my authority but are they entitled to carry out a search when it suits them? I do propose to close this account but I would like some clarification – or do I need to contact the ombudsman or the FSA? I am unable to get the answer to my question in the above examples.

Ann, Co Down

Dear Ann,

I fully understand your concerns, but I’m confident that you will have authorised the search. Each time you apply for credit you will agree to the lender’s terms and conditions. These include a prominently displayed data protection notice, which spells out exactly how your personal information will be used in the future. In relation to credit referencing, the notice will usually allow the lender to check your credit report to help them assess your initial application and for a record of that check to added to your credit report. In addition, it will also usually give the lender permission to access your credit report on an ongoing basis to help it manage any account or accounts you have with them. It will be one of these regular account-management checks that your lender has carried out here. This is something that many lenders now do to help them manage their customers’ accounts responsibly and to reduce bad debt. This type of check usually involves only a high level summary of your credit history and, as a result, is unlikely to register a credit check footprint, unless the lender goes on to check your full report. Importantly, if any footprints are left behind by this regular credit report monitoring they will only be visible to you and will not be used in credit scoring. Although the credit limit cut doesn’t necessarily mean there is something negative on your credit report, it would be sensible to take the opportunity to review your report just to make sure everything is accurate and up to date.  (October 2012, updated December 2014)


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