Questions Of Cash: Credit data 'libel' action may well be wrong call

 

Q. I was the victim of a fraudster, who used my personal details obtained from my previous address to open a mobile phone account with T-Mobile in my name. This led to a negative credit reference report and a reduction in my permitted credit limit on my credit card. Do I have grounds for a libel action against Experian, the credit reference agency? CW, London.

A. James Jones of Experian says: "Legally, T-Mobile are the data controllers and we are the data processors, so the phone provider takes primary responsibility for accuracy of the data it shares with other lenders through the credit reference agencies. You can make a claim under the Data Protection Act for damage caused by inaccurate data, but being declined credit is more loss of expectation, not damage. I don't think libel law is relevant here, because credit reports aren't really published. Access to the data is limited to organisations that take part in the data sharing scheme."

A spokeswoman for the Information Commissioner's Office adds: "The credit reference agency would be likely to say that they depend on the data received from financial institutions and would therefore not be responsible. It's also relevant to note that the credit ratings are a product of the lender's appetite to lending risk and will vary from lender to lender.

"If a person has been a victim of identity fraud they should first take it up with the bank [or other institution], who would verify the claim and modify their records accordingly. The lender [or credit provider] is under an obligation to provide accurate data, so they would then send updated information to the credit reference agency.

"The credit reference agency or Cifas [the UK anti-fraud agency] may place a fraud marker next to the affected person's name to show that they have been a victim of identity theft, but this should not impact on their credit rating. But it would be likely to lead to increased verification checks on the individual if they were to apply for credit."

In summary, it is questionable whether you have grounds for legal action for libel, but given the cost and uncertainty of such action, it is unlikely to be a sensible thing to initiate.

Q. I owed Barclaycard £5,000. I paid £500 off the loan, but I was unable to make further repayments when my employer's daughter died suddenly and my job ended. A debt-collecting agency contacted me on behalf of Barclaycard and I arranged new repayment terms with them. I then paid off the loan in full, but I never received acknowledgement that the debt was cleared. I phoned the agency seven times seeking confirmation in writing, but this never arrived. They said they didn't understand why I wanted the letter. I am worried that the debt is not showing as cleared. GG, Derry.

A Your concern is well founded. The collecting agency did not properly record the debt as cleared, with the result that collection of the "debt" was transferred to another agency. As a result of our intervention the records of Barclaycard and the two debt collection agencies have been corrected to show that the debt has been fully cleared.

Q. On 16 March last year, I accepted an online quote from MCE Insurance for cover for my motorcycle. I paid immediately and the cover was to begin on 1 April. I sent the policy certificate to the road tax office for a tax disc, which I received a few days later. Nearly six months afterwards, I received a bank statement showing a credit from MCE. I phoned MCE to find out why and was told the policy had been cancelled because of a postcode error and a refund had been made to my account, less £32. My bike had not been insured for the previous 23 weeks! Why wasn't I told? CC, Belfast.

A. We have been unable to obtain a satisfactory explanation from MCE Insurance. A spokeswoman said: "The charge on the policy has been removed and a full refund given. Due to the Data Protection Act, in order to discuss the client's policy information in further detail with The Independent we require the client's signed consent to do so." You provided authorisation to MCE, but despite this and our follow-up requests, no explanation has been provided. MCE said that you also lodged a complaint with the Financial Ombudsman Service, which we hope will take tough action.

Q. You helped me at the end of last year with eBay, which suspended my trading account. After you contacted them, I understood my account had been reopened. However, I again can't use it. JW, Staffordshire.

A PayPal, the eBay subsidiary that runs its payment system, says: "PayPal conducted a review on [the reader's] account due to a number of buyer complaints received. PayPal asked [the reader] to provide receipts and/or invoices for the items she had sold. Unfortunately, [the reader] provided invoices that did not match any of the items she had sold through her PayPal account. PayPal therefore could not validate the items sold and had to suspend her account until the necessary information was provided. [The reader] subsequently set up a second PayPal account, and was again asked to provide receipts or invoices for the sales of items through it.

However, [the reader] submitted an invoice that was unrelated to the items she was selling. As a result, PayPal had to suspend her second account until the correct information for both accounts was provided, which unfortunately [the reader] has been unable to do to date. PayPal is very happy to review the matter further, but will require [the reader] to provide valid receipts for all of the items she has sold, in order to confirm their legitimacy." You have agreed to send copies of the appropriate paperwork to PayPal to satisfy its concerns. We suggest you consider how to improve the administration of your eBay trading.

Questions of Cash cannot give individual advice. But if you have a financial dilemma, we'll do our best to help. Please email us at: questionsofcash@independent.co.uk

Independent Partners; Do you need financial advice on your investments, pension or insurance? Book a free consultation with an independent Financial Adviser at VouchedFor.co.uk

News
US comedian Bill Mahr
people
Voices
Winston Churchill, then prime minister, outside No 10 in June 1943
voicesA C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Sport
football
News
Rob Lowe
peopleRob Lowe hits out at Obama's snub of Benjamin Netanyahu
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
Davies (let) says: 'Everybody thought we were having an affair. It was never true!'
people'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'
Arts and Entertainment
Over their 20 years, the band has built a community of dedicated followers the world over
music
News
Staff assemble outside the old City Road offices in London
mediaThe stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century at Britain's youngest paper
Life and Style
The Oliver twins, Philip and Andrew, at work creating the 'Dizzy' arcade-adventure games in 1988
techDocumentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Arts and Entertainment
Krall says: 'My hero player-singer is Elton John I used to listen to him as a child, every single record
music
News
Friends for life … some professionals think loneliness is more worrying than obesity
scienceSocial contact is good for our sense of wellbeing - but it's a myth that loneliness kills, say researchers
Arts and Entertainment
The Wu-Tang Clan will sell only one copy of their album Once Upon A Time In Shaolin
musicWu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own only copies of their latest albums
News
i100
Environment
Number so freshwater mussels in Cumbria have plummeted from up to three million in the 20th century to 500,000
environment
Life and Style
Models – and musicians – on the catwalk in Dior Homme for the men’s 2015/16 fashion show in Paris
fashionAt this season's Paris shows, various labels played with the city boys' favourite
News
i100
Finacial products from our partners
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Money & Business

    Recruitment Genius: Tax Assistant

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Tax Assistant is required to join a leading ...

    Recruitment Genius: Outbound Sales Executive - OTE £25,000

    £16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

    Ashdown Group: Java Developer / J2EE Developer - Watford - £45,000 - £47,000

    £45000 - £47000 per annum + bonus + benefits: Ashdown Group: Java Developer / ...

    Ashdown Group: Marketing Product Manager - (Financial Services) - SW London

    £35000 - £38000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager - Marke...

    Day In a Page

    Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

    What the six wise men told Tony Blair

    Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
    25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

    25 years of The Independent on Sunday

    The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
    Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

    Smash hit go under the hammer

    It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
    Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

    The geeks who rocked the world

    A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
    Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

    Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

    Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
    America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

    America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

    These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
    A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

    A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

    A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
    Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

    Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

    A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
    Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

    Growing mussels

    Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project
    Diana Krall: The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai

    Diana Krall interview

    The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai
    Pinstriped for action: A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter

    Pinstriped for action

    A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter
    Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: 'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'

    Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: How we met

    'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef serves up his favourite Japanese dishes

    Bill Granger's Japanese recipes

    Stock up on mirin, soy and miso and you have the makings of everyday Japanese cuisine
    Michael Calvin: How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us