Experian are one of the UK’s biggest credit agencies – a financial services company that holds details about the financial health of millions of British people. Unfortunately, they are now being accused of selling some of this data to third party advertisers without the required consent. If it’s found to be true, this claim could mean that all of those people are owed compensation.
Why do Experian have my data?
Experian gather a wide range of financial data from organisations such as banks, building societies and utilities companies. They process more than 750 million data records every month, and this information is used to build up a financial profile – or so-called credit score – of the individuals on file. Banks and other financial lenders can look at some of this information before deciding whether or not to offer a financial service to somebody.
Experian doesn’t need your consent to collect and process this data. However, you do have the right to ask to see what information they store on you. You can also request for details to be amended if they’re inaccurate, and you can opt out of having your data used for marketing purposes. These rights are held under the GDPR regulations, so there can be serious consequences if a company refuses to comply.
Why are they in trouble?
The legal challenge hinges on the claim that Experian have sold on data for targeted marketing without getting permission first – a potential beach of GDPR. The case has been filed by legal company Harcus Parker, who hope to win a mammoth lawsuit on behalf of the British public. However, the allegations are being hotly contested by Experian, who claim that they have acted lawfully. Their spokesperson said:
“For more than 30 years, our offline marketing-services business – which is separate from our credit-reporting business – has supported thousands of small companies, charities and public bodies, using publicly available data such as the census and the edited electoral roll. It does not use any cookies to track or monitor internet behaviour and does not collect data on actual customer purchases.”
What happens next?
There’s a long way to go before we’ll know whether Experian is found guilty and asked to pay out compensation. Harcus Parker’s legal challenge has been made as a ‘representative action’. This means that, should they be successful, they will win compensation on behalf of everybody who’s been affected. The claim is on behalf of adults in England and Wales, and Harcus Parker have suggested that the compensation could amount to around £750 per person.
Don’t start planning how you want to spend the money just yet though. Traditionally, legal companies have found it difficult to win representative action cases, and there are plenty of hoops that they’ll need to jump through to prove the damages are real. Watch this space for more though, as if Harcus Parker do win we’ll be sure to let you know how to claim your cut.