Constables urged to act on credit refusals

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Experian, a credit reference agency which receives more than 60,000 applications for credit from the Island each year, have been asking for help from the committee since 2002.

Each week they carry out credit checks for thousands of Islanders, but they are being blocked from accessing electoral registers in each parish because the Constables say they are not legally permitted to release the information.

Therefore, anyone who has moved address since 2002 is likely to either have credit refused or be asked to produce letters and proof of address.

In the UK, people can have a decision on a credit application in under a minute as they use Experian.

There are fears that the delay caused to people in Jersey may put them off applying and may therefore limit their choice of lenders.

Now the JEP campaign Fair Play is backing calls from Experian and Jersey Data Protection Commissioner Emma Martins for the law to be changed in the Island.

In the UK the law was changed in 2002 to make sure that marketing companies could not access the electoral register.

When Jersey was passing a similar law, someone in the UK was taking their local authority to court for selling his details on.

This frightened the Constables and they decided to leave the area that covered access to registers out of the Public Elections Law.

Even though the man won his case in the UK, the courts ruled that credit reference agencies should have access to the registers.

In Jersey, the relevant section of the law was never included in the Public Elections law and therefore no-one can buy a copy of the register.

In the UK anyone filling out their electoral form now ticks a box to declare whether they wish their details to be sold to marketing firms.

After being contacted by Experian for help, Mrs Martin has compiled a paper and presented it to the Privileges and Procedures Committee for urgent discussion.

Gillian Key-Vice, the regulatory affairs director at Experian, said: ‘In 2003 we processed more than 64,000 applications for credit from people in Jersey.

We have a similar number each year.

Some of these will be turned down because of this problem, and others will be asked to send in utility bills and other proof of address, which can delay the process and can also put people off applying to others in the future.

This means that consumer choice is being reduced and people in Jersey are not having access to the same offers that people across the UK are.

‘If people are finding that they are having a continual problem with applications for credit, they can contact Experian and we can send them a copy of their file.

Advice on how to do this may be found at www.experian.co.uk/consumer/index.html.

Any details that are incorrect can be updated direct with us.’ St Clement Constable Derek Gray, the chairman of the Privileges and Procedures Committee, said: ‘I can’t speak on behalf of the Constables’ Committee, but we only received the details from Mrs Martins this week and I intend to meet her and discuss the matter before our next meeting in February.’

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