back to article Experian subsidiary faces MEGA-PROBE for 'selling consumer data to fraudster'

Several US states have launched an investigation into a subsidiary of credit reference bureau Experian after a fraudster allegedly bought millions of consumers' personal data from it. Vietnamese national Hieu Minh Ngo allegedly used information obtained through Experian subsidiary Court Ventures to run two identity fraud- …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    The whole credit rating thing is a scam anyway. Someone used my address to arrange car insurance and after speaking to the Insurance company who advised me to report this "fraudulent activity" to the Met fraud department who then advised me to use one of the credit agencies.

    Now I know some credit checks can be free for a short time but seriously I will have to make sure I quit the credit agency before they charge me a monthly fee to see what other low life is trying to use my details to their own end? Crooks all around.

    We have forgotten trust and honesty is a personal value, you should not have to pay someone else to constantly give their opinion of you and live in fear of their judgement.

    1. Anonymous Coward 101

      Re: Extorian

      The £2 statutory credit file you can get is fine and can be retrieved as a pdf. It's much easier than messing about with the extortionate 'credit monitoring' services they offer.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Extorian

      You can ask the credit reference agency to restrict access to your credit file if you have been the victim of fraud. Alternatively, just ask them to add a "Notice of Correction" to your file as this will stop most automated systems in their tracks as these force all credit decisions to "refer" (as opposed to accept/decline). Processing a "refer" decision requires manual intervention as someone has to read the notice before making a decision on the loan or credit. However, you'll lose access to most of the online application systems that use your credit file (eg mobile phone companies, insurance comparison sites, online loan applications, credit card applications) as manual intervention costs them too much - these companies will tend to treat all online "refer" decisions as "decline".

      Then of course you'll just be bitching about unfair it is that you are turned down for the latest "shiny" from Apple or Samsung.

      If you are bothered about forgetting to cancel subscriptions you can also ask the agency to send you a copy of your file for £2 (although they don't like to publicise this option very much).

      Anonymous because I work at Experian and don't want the guys in the £2 statutory credit report department to kill me.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      'The whole credit rating thing is a scam anyway'

      In the good ol' United States of NSA Inc. you cannot move a square inch without 3 particular credit agencies influencing your life, not just banking btw, try renting an apartment, hiring a car, getting a job, even going on a date if you can believe that!

      You quickly realize how much of an unaccountable mafia they are. Has anyone ever tried calling them to fix errors? They are judge jury and executioner all rolled into one! You have to become an expert in legalese just to get justice and even then its easy to acquire a credit record filled with bad data without your knowledge.

      But in the end I really must thank them, because they stopped me from going into debt over stupid car loans, credit cards and mortgages. So hey, you saved me from debt slavery!

  2. Fihart

    Experian -- a disgrace in a democracy.

    Why we tolerate commercial companies exploiting us in this way continues to amaze me. They have no implicit right to hold data on us nor to blight our life chances by issuing (possibly inaccurate) credit ratings. Need also to crack down on tenant vetting/blacklisting outfits who, similarly, collect data on many people that can be used to stop them renting a home.

    1. Jonte Monkey

      Re: Experian -- a disgrace in a democracy.

      You are right - they have no implicit right. You gave them the right when you signed the loan application (you did read the small print right?). If you don't want them to hold data on you don't take out any credit.

      1. Warm Braw Silver badge

        Re: Experian -- a disgrace in a democracy.

        >You gave them the right when you signed the loan application

        That's not always been the case. I have a credit card I originally took out over 35 years ago that doesn't show up on credit reports because the original agreement did not permit such data sharing. It's the loosening up of credit rules since then (that's been so stunningly successful in sustaining a growing world economy) that has led to the proliferation of information sharing.

        And most of these records are not used for what you would traditionally think of as a loan - they're there to facilitate long term lock-in, direct debit contracts that are more lucrative to service providers than the traditional pay up front / pay per use arrangements that let customers walk away when they're unhappy or temporarily skint.

        And let's not mention the amount of money people like Experian try to make by selling your own data back to you.

        It's about time they had no explicit right, either. The world would largely go on unchanged, except for a short term downturn in the sales of three-piece suits.

        1. Jonte Monkey

          Re: Experian -- a disgrace in a democracy.

          Sigh - you have just made my point for me - the information that you haven't given away (from your 35 year old credit agreement) doesn't show up on your report as you didn't sign a contract saying that they can have your data. The information that you have given away does. If you don't want to give your details to the credit reference agencies then don't - just don't expect anyone to lend you money. If you think that lending money to unknown people on the internet is a good idea (which is what the banks would be doing if they didn't use the credit reference agencies) then I've got a bridge I'd like to sell to you.

          The direct debit system is a bill payment system - nothing to do with credit except that you can use it to pay back what you have borrowed.

          Experian make no money from selling the £2 report that they have to make available by law (if you could do all the admin/fraud prevention checks for less than £2 then I know someone at Experian who would be very interested in talking to you). Yes, they do sell a monitoring service but it is up to you if you think it is good value or not.

      2. NumptyScrub

        Re: Experian -- a disgrace in a democracy.

        quote: "You are right - they have no implicit right. You gave them the right when you signed the loan application (you did read the small print right?). If you don't want them to hold data on you don't take out any credit."

        You are indeed correct; I should have decided to save up enough money to purchase my house outright rather than deal with these pesky credit agreements. :)

        It's all very well pointing out that people have a choice, but "bend over and accept or GTFO" is not much of a choice. Especially if every single organisation offering the service you are interested in offers exactly the same choice.

        "By living in the USA you agree to monitoring by the NSA. If you do not agree to this monitoring, please leave the USA. By leaving the USA you agree to monitoring by the NSA. If you continue to exist, we'll assume you are happy to be monitored. Information gathered by the NSA may be forwarded to select partners in order to improve the services offered by the NSA."

        1. Jonte Monkey

          Re: Experian -- a disgrace in a democracy.

          You are right - but the problem is with the banks giving out the loans not giving you that choice - not with the credit reference agency. However, loans would be more expensive without any sort of credit check as they would be far more risky for the lender because they'd only have their own records to go on.

          Imagine if you were the bank manager and someone walks into your branch and says "I'd like to borrow £250,000 to buy a house" - would you lend them the cash? What if they have only just opened an account with you last week and you know nothing about them? How long should you make them wait? 6 months? a year? more?

          Look, I'm not saying that the current system is perfect but no-one has yet come up with a better one. If you have ideas for a better system - let us know how it would work.

  3. David Roberts

    Due Diligence?

    I wonder who did the 'due diligence' prior to the purchase and where they are working now?

    Not good to buy a company only to be told by the USSS that your brand new acquisition has been flogging data to an offshore person with criminal tendencies.

    Difficult to beleive that this only came to light straight after the purchase of Court Ventures.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Of course extortion don't sell on your data. It's not like their forum used to be filled with people complaining about Vanquis contacting them out of the blue before they began mass deleting the forum pages. Oh wait.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    "We didn't sell any of our data; we sold someone else's data via a subsidiary we bought".

    Thank goodness for that, I feel so much better.

    PS Barclay's, despite my phone calls to your useless Indian call centre, still getting the credit card statements for the person that hasn't live at the address for 8 years. Fraud prevention, apparently someone mentioned it once.

  6. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    In the UK Credit reference agencies have special privleges

    They have access to the full electorial role.

    Despite them being AFAIK little better regulated than wheel clamping companies.

    1. Jonte Monkey

      Re: In the UK Credit reference agencies have special privleges

      They only have access to the full electoral roll for anti-fraud purposes. They use the same cut down down version for all of their marketing services as everyone else. And if you think they are as unregulated as wheel clamping companies you really need to do some research.

      1. vagabondo

        Re: In the UK Credit reference agencies have special privleges

        @Jonte Monkey

        Once they have your data they have it. Their business is acquiring, cross-referncing and selling personal data. For their purposes it does not have to be accurate, only good enough to sell; much like Google and the other data marketing companies.

        They are also in the bulk and junk email business that is used by a significant number of UK retailers. If you are a customer of one of their customers they have that data as well. Plus anything they can glean from DVLA, insurance companies, etc. And as a US company they don't have to worry too much about data protection legislation.

        If they are making money out of our data, we should have free access, and the ablility to correct and annotate it. We should also be informed of each occasion our information is accessed/transferred to a third party. That would cut down on fraud and misuse.

        1. Jonte Monkey

          Re: In the UK Credit reference agencies have special privleges

          Yeah, but if you sign up to the mailing preference service you'll be flagged as such on their database and then your details won't be included when they sell a mailing list. You'd be surpised how strictly the data sharing is policed even between individual departments at Experian (I used to work there). Even different banks get different credit reports depending on what data they are allowed to see.

          You already have the ability to correct/annotate your data (via a notice of correction), it's just that most people don't use it. You can also get your report for the princely sum of £2 (which is way below what it costs to process - given the number of anti-fraud checks needed before sending out such a report). This report also includes details of who has looked at your data, when they looked and why (with the exception of enquiries by the police for obvious reasons). I can see a good case for making this service free, but you can bet that the agencies would make it much harder to access this service if this were the case. Also, all of the credit reference data on UK people is held in the UK and can't be transferred abroad due to the data protection laws we have in this country. Getting the status of a credit reference agency in this country is hard and it can easily be taken away.

          Google on the other hand has no such restrictions/obligations. If you think that they are the same then you are wrong.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: In the UK Credit reference agencies have special privleges

            If it is so much work to allow access to the £2 file why do they not automate it?

            From personal experience I have tried to get the £2 report online but have been rejected (for fraud prevention measures) and had to write in with copies of xyz. However I was able to instantly sign up for their full blown credit monitoring service giving a lot more detail using the same details and do it instantly online.

            So do they have more checks which have to be done manually for the one-off £2 report than they have for continuous access credit monitoring service? Or is it just that they can make money out of the monitoring service and so want to make it as easy as possible to do?

  7. Someone Else Silver badge

    "Much lower..."

    Although we do not know the exact number of US Info Search’s records actually accessed at this point, we know that 200 million is false and that the actual number is much lower.

    That's the edited statement. The part that was redacted stated, "There couldn't have been more that 187 million...."

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