Marketing services update

27 October 2020 - today the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) published its findings in relation to a 2018 audit of the data broking sector, focusing on the marketing services of the three main credit reference agencies in the UK.

In 2018 these services made up a very small part of our UK business. Equifax cooperated fully with the ICO’s work, addressing all of the ICO’s key audit findings, and made a commercial decision to withdraw relevant services some time ago. The ICO has confirmed that it does not intend to take any action against Equifax.

Despite the ICO confirming that each credit reference agency’s marketing services varied widely in size and practice, the ICO’s report discusses the CRAs' activities collectively, which is likely to cause some confusion. The focus of Equifax's historic marketing activity was to support clients with their postal communications, and the majority of our activity was concerned with reducing unwanted mailings. This helped clients more accurately direct mailings, reduce waste, prevent fraud and encourage responsible lending. Equifax has never provided marketing services of any sort to political parties or political campaigns, and Equifax has never extensively profiled any individual in order to generate new or unknown information about them, for use in marketing services.

Ultimately, the ICO’s findings focus on an interpretation of the GDPR which we consider to have extended beyond legal requirements. We share the ICO’s objectives, but have particular concerns about the impact of the ICO’s approach on the consumer credit sector, especially with regard to responsible lending requirements.

To help consumers understand the limited marketing services Equifax continues to provide, we have created a new marketing services webpage, which can be accessed here: Equifax Marketing Services