New services offered by credit agencies: legitimate use of personal information?
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Alexandre Plourde, Project Lead
Credit agencies offer companies the opportunity to use the personal information they have in their possession for a wide variety of purposes. In addition to allowing consumers’ credit reports and numerous credit ratings to be consulted, credit agencies offer marketing, fraud prevention and consumer identification services. All these services can be delivered via automated interfaces, allowing consumers’ files to be monitored in real time.
In this report, Option consommateurs analyzes the contracts and personal information management policies of the primary Canadian financial institutions and demonstrates that the information disclosed to consumers does not clearly show how the credit agencies will use their personal information. Semi-structured interviews conducted with consumers in the course of the research indicate that most consumers are not aware of a number of services offered by credit agencies and that some of the ways in which the credit reports are used—for example, for advertising purposes or real-time monitoring—are not very well accepted.
Option consommateurs considers that credit agencies and their clients should be more transparent and asks them to adopt more informative contract provisions. Given the impact that the varied use of their credit reports has on consumers, some of the recommendations Option consommateurs makes in its research report include imposing new, more detailed and easily understood information-related obligations, prohibiting credit reports from being used in certain ways and taking steps to ensure the accuracy of the data held by credit agencies.
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OPC Funded Project
This project received funding support through the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada’s Contributions Program. The opinions expressed in the summary and report(s) are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada. Summaries have been provided by the project authors. Please note that the projects appear in their language of origin.
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