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  • FIRST POST
    • Degenerate
    • By Degenerate 4th Jul 18, 7:08 PM
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    Degenerate
    Can utilities report to CRAs without a credit agreement?
    • #1
    • 4th Jul 18, 7:08 PM
    Can utilities report to CRAs without a credit agreement? 4th Jul 18 at 7:08 PM
    I just discovered that a certain utility company has reported defaults on my account to Equifax. This was quite a shock, as I had no idea they even reported to CRAs. But heres the rub - I don't see how I ever entered into a credit agreement with them. Yes, I know that a credit agreement is mandatory for new customers, but:

    - According to their website, they started reporting to Equifax in 2016.
    - I've been been the account holder at this address continuously since 1993.
    - For most of this time, my payments were taken automatically by Direct Debit.
    - There was never any intervention required by me, no documents to sign, etc.
    - Neither did I ever need to speak to them over the phone.

    I don't see any point at which I could be said to have entered into a credit agreement. And there is something demonstrably amiss, because my file shows the agreement starting when I was still a child. I understand enough to know that entering into a credit agreement requires the consent of both parties, and I never gave mine. It seems to me that I'm "grandfathered in" from decades before they implemented credit agreements and CRA reporting.

    Can someone point out how I'm wrong here? And am I right to think that absent a credit agreement, they had no right to be reporting my account conduct to a CRA at all?
Page 1
    • zx81
    • By zx81 4th Jul 18, 7:22 PM
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    zx81
    • #2
    • 4th Jul 18, 7:22 PM
    • #2
    • 4th Jul 18, 7:22 PM
    It's likely they sent a notice of variation. Ask them.
    • Degenerate
    • By Degenerate 4th Jul 18, 7:36 PM
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    Degenerate
    • #3
    • 4th Jul 18, 7:36 PM
    • #3
    • 4th Jul 18, 7:36 PM
    Wouldn't a notice of variation require the existence of a credit agreement in the first place? I'm not sure I even have any form of binding contract with them. I was 16 years old when I became the account holder at this address. (but 13 when the credit agreement started, according to what they're telling Equifax!)
    • Thrugelmir
    • By Thrugelmir 4th Jul 18, 7:43 PM
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    Thrugelmir
    • #4
    • 4th Jul 18, 7:43 PM
    • #4
    • 4th Jul 18, 7:43 PM
    No need for a credit agreement. You would have agreed to this in signing/accepting the terms and conditions of business. Small print is there for a reason.
    Financial disasters happen when the last person who can remember what went wrong last time has left the building.
    • Degenerate
    • By Degenerate 4th Jul 18, 7:56 PM
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    Degenerate
    • #5
    • 4th Jul 18, 7:56 PM
    • #5
    • 4th Jul 18, 7:56 PM
    No need for a credit agreement. You would have agreed to this in signing/accepting the terms and conditions of business. Small print is there for a reason.
    Originally posted by Thrugelmir
    Did you even read my posts? You really think they anticipated their 2016 decision to implement CRA reporting in their 1993 T&Cs? And what's the legality of T&Cs signed up to by a 16 year old? I'm not even sure if I signed anything back then. It's a water company, and looking into it, they may have been supplying service under statutory regulations rather than a contractual agreement.
    • Thrugelmir
    • By Thrugelmir 4th Jul 18, 8:26 PM
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    Thrugelmir
    • #6
    • 4th Jul 18, 8:26 PM
    • #6
    • 4th Jul 18, 8:26 PM
    Did you even read my posts? You really think they anticipated their 2016 decision to implement CRA reporting in their 1993 T&Cs? And what's the legality of T&Cs signed up to by a 16 year old? I'm not even sure if I signed anything back then. It's a water company, and looking into it, they may have been supplying service under statutory regulations rather than a contractual agreement.
    Originally posted by Degenerate
    T&C's get updated. They don't remain static. These would have been sent with your bills. By being allowed to pay in arrears (after the bill is issued) you are in effect being offered credit terms.
    Financial disasters happen when the last person who can remember what went wrong last time has left the building.
    • bazzyb
    • By bazzyb 4th Jul 18, 8:33 PM
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    bazzyb
    • #7
    • 4th Jul 18, 8:33 PM
    • #7
    • 4th Jul 18, 8:33 PM
    I don't see how I ever entered into a credit agreement with them.
    Originally posted by Degenerate
    Why do you think there either is a credit agreement or an implication of a credit agreement? The account should be listed on your credit report under the category of 'public utility' rather than some kind of credit account - is this not the case here?
    • Degenerate
    • By Degenerate 4th Jul 18, 8:58 PM
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    Degenerate
    • #8
    • 4th Jul 18, 8:58 PM
    • #8
    • 4th Jul 18, 8:58 PM
    T&C's get updated. They don't remain static. These would have been sent with your bills. By being allowed to pay in arrears (after the bill is issued) you are in effect being offered credit terms.
    Originally posted by Thrugelmir
    Sorry mate, but I think you're talking b****cks. A credit agreement must be explicitly entered into. Most of the time it's unavoidable - even if it's over the phone, they read you the spiel and you have to agree to proceed - but that doesn't apply in my case.

    I'm pretty sure the "they varied their T&Cs" talk is nonsense too - I've been looking into this, and from what I can tell, water companies are "statutory undertakers" - they are obliged to provide service, and their customers are obliged to pay the bills, on the basis of rules set out in law by the Government - they don't get to set their own T&Cs. This would also explain how I was able to be account holder at 16, before I could legally sign a contract.

    Why do you think there either is a credit agreement or an implication of a credit agreement? The account should be listed on your credit report under the category of 'public utility' rather than some kind of credit account - is this not the case here?
    Originally posted by bazzyb
    It's listed as "other". My understanding was that for a company to report to a CRA, I had to have entered a credit agreement that permits them to do that - a credit agreement does not necessarily mean a credit product.

    EDIT: I may have been confusing the issue by talking about a "credit agreement" like that is the key thing. My key point of contention is that I think they needed my permission to share data about me with CRAs. That would be included in typical credit agreements, but actually it stands alone as a data protection requirement.
    Last edited by Degenerate; 04-07-2018 at 9:19 PM. Reason: +data protection
    • camelot1971
    • By camelot1971 4th Jul 18, 9:19 PM
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    camelot1971
    • #9
    • 4th Jul 18, 9:19 PM
    • #9
    • 4th Jul 18, 9:19 PM
    I think you are the one talking b****cks, as you eloquently put it.

    From a water companies T&C's:

    We will share your personal information with Credit Reference Agencies and Fraud Prevention Agencies to better understand our customers and help:

    Assist in the management of your account
    Better tailor the services and products we provide to you
    Identify early sign of financial hardship so that we may extend appropriate support
    Assist in the prevention of over indebtedness
    Verify your identity for the purposes of fraud prevention.

    You don't get to opt out of any other those, whether you like it or not. A utility company provides a service to you, if you choose not to pay for that service, that doesn't mean that there are no consequences just because a water or electric company has to provide a service. As long as the CRA record is a true reflection of your account why would you worry?

    Not all companies report although most are these days - that is good. I don't want to pay more on my bill because some deadbeat doesn't want to pay.
    • Degenerate
    • By Degenerate 4th Jul 18, 9:27 PM
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    Degenerate
    From a water companies T&C's:

    We will share your personal information with Credit Reference Agencies and Fraud Prevention Agencies to better understand our customers and help:
    Originally posted by camelot1971
    Irrelevant. I stated clearly enough in the first post that I understand that new customers are obviously required to agree to this. This was not the case when I became account holder in 1993, and I didn't give permission for this change when they made it in 2016. I've been looking into data protection regulations and they are very clear that EXPLICIT PERMISSION is required to share data.
    • zx81
    • By zx81 4th Jul 18, 9:34 PM
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    zx81
    Explicit permission is NOT needed if it is a condition of service.

    You can opt out but then you relinquish the service.

    The regulations are very clear on the matter.
    • Degenerate
    • By Degenerate 4th Jul 18, 9:42 PM
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    Degenerate
    Explicit permission is NOT needed if it is a condition of service.
    Originally posted by zx81
    What part of "I became account holder in 1993, they started reporting to CRAs in 2016" didn't you understand?
    Last edited by Degenerate; 04-07-2018 at 9:45 PM.
    • zx81
    • By zx81 4th Jul 18, 9:44 PM
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    zx81
    The bit where it had anything to do with what I just posted.

    Try to relax and engage in an adult level rather than getting all narky with people who are trying to help.
    • Degenerate
    • By Degenerate 4th Jul 18, 9:47 PM
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    Degenerate
    The bit where it had anything to do with what I just posted.
    Originally posted by zx81
    It had everything to do with it. It was not a condition of service when my service started. I did not agree to a change. My explicit permission was required for this change.

    (What is more, making it a condition of service may actually break the company's obligations as a statutory undertaker - still looking into that.)
    • zx81
    • By zx81 4th Jul 18, 9:48 PM
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    zx81
    Hence the NoV. Hence no explicit permission required under the basis of processing.
    • BoGoF
    • By BoGoF 4th Jul 18, 9:51 PM
    • 3,626 Posts
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    BoGoF
    I fear you are wasting your time trying to help this person. Another poster who only wants replies supporting their point of view.
    • Degenerate
    • By Degenerate 4th Jul 18, 9:58 PM
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    Degenerate
    Hence the NoV. Hence no explicit permission required under the basis of processing.
    Originally posted by zx81
    Variation of what? There wasn't even a valid contract for them to vary, I was too young to enter into one.

    And BTW, explicit permission is required in ALL circumstances. When it's a condition of service, it's an explicit part of the agreement and you give that permission when you sign up.
    Last edited by Degenerate; 04-07-2018 at 10:08 PM.
    • antrobus
    • By antrobus 4th Jul 18, 10:35 PM
    • 16,211 Posts
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    antrobus
    Variation of what? There wasn't even a valid contract for them to vary, I was too young to enter into one.
    Originally posted by Degenerate
    Contracts entered into by minors that are for necessaries are binding on minors. A utility contract is likely to be a necessary.

    In any case, a contract with a minor is perfectly valid, but voidable.

    This means that the minor can cancel, or avoid any contract at any time before reaching the age of 18 years, and for a reasonable time afterwards.

    https://www.inbrief.co.uk/contract-law/contract-with-minors/

    Since you don't appear to have cancelled the contract within those parameters, I'd say you were now bound by its terms.

    P.S. Go and ask a proper lawyer if you are in any doubt.
    • Degenerate
    • By Degenerate 4th Jul 18, 10:43 PM
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    Degenerate
    Since you don't appear to have cancelled the contract within those parameters, I'd say you were now bound by its terms.
    Originally posted by antrobus
    And nowhere in those 1993 terms did it mention sharing data with a CRA. And at no time since did I give them the explicit permission that is required under the DPA for them to do so.

    But thanks for the info on contracting with minors, that was useful and informative - unlike the other contributions to this thread that are basically saying a company do whatever it wants.

    I'm still skeptical about the legality of Water Companies setting mandatory T&Cs that require permission for CRA reporting. Looking further into the "Statutory Undertaker" thing.
    Last edited by Degenerate; 04-07-2018 at 10:53 PM.
    • fermi
    • By fermi 5th Jul 18, 8:00 AM
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    fermi
    From the ICO:

    The water companies use the legitimate interests condition to share data with CRAs. However, they must be clear and transparent with consumers about what they are doing with the data and the data must be accurate.
    If the legitimate interest condition is satisfied, consent is not required (contractual or otherwise).

    Saying on their website and in bills or other communications that they will be doing this likely fulfils the clear and transparent part.
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