Credit agreements - getting information

 February 2016

Fact sheet no. 29 SCOT Credit agreements - getting information

This fact sheet tells you what rights you have to information your creditors hold and how to ask them to give this information to you. When you get debt advice to help you deal with your debts, it is very important to have up to date information about each debt.

Use this fact sheet to help you to:

  • get a copy of your credit agreement and information about your account for £1;
  • get a statement showing the instalments that you still owe, as well as any arrears; and
  • make a written request for details of the personal information an organisation holds about you.

This fact sheet includes links to sample letters you can fill in online to get:

  • a copy of your agreement and statement of account;
  • details of instalments owed on your agreement and arrears; and
  • personal information about you held by an organisation.

This fact sheet also includes some useful contacts and links for you to get further help.

The sample letters mentioned in this fact sheet can be filled in on our website.

My rights to information

Extra advice:

Consumer Credit Act rights

You have the right to ask a creditor for a copy of your agreement and a statement of your account only if you still owe them money on the account.  If you have paid your debt in full, or if your lender has taken court action, you may not have these rights.  Contact us for advice.

You have rights to ask for personal information from creditors and other organisations because of two laws:

  • the Consumer Credit Act 1974; and
  • the Data Protection Act 1998.

The kind of information that you can get is different under each law. 

  • The Consumer Credit Act gives you the right to ask for a copy of your credit agreement and  statements of your account. 
  • The Data Protection Act gives ‘subject access rights’ to get personal information held by the organisation about you.

Sample letters

Information:

how much will it cost?

The fee for asking for a copy of your agreement and statement of account under sections 77, 78 and 79 of the Consumer Credit Act is £1. There is no fee if you ask for a statement of your account under section 77b of the Consumer Credit Act.

There are three sample letters in this fact sheet which you can use to get different kinds of information.

Information about your agreement under the Consumer Credit Act

Use this sample letter to ask for a copy of your agreement and related documents, together with a statement of your account from a creditor. You might need to use this letter if you have lost your original agreement and want to check the terms and conditions such as the interest rate, the amount of credit and the total number of payments. You might want a statement of account to check what the creditor thinks you have paid on the account and when. Use sections 77, 78 and 79 of the Consumer Credit Act 1974to make this request.

Information about instalments still to pay under a credit agreement

Use this sample letter to ask for a statement of your account which shows what you have to pay in the future, including any missed payments. You can only use this letter if your agreement is for a fixed amount of credit, the debt is not secured on property and you pay it by instalments.  Use section 77b of the Consumer Credit Act 1974to make this request. 

Information:

how much will it cost?

Organisations can charge up to £10 for sending you personal information under the Data Protection Act.

Personal information under the Data Protection Act

Use this sample letter to ask for specific information about you which may be held by a creditor, or a public organisation like your local council. Alternatively, you might want to check what information the creditor holds about you (such as a record of a phone call) and how they may have used this to make decisions about you. Use section 7 of the Data Protection Act 1998 to make this request.

What information should I receive?

You will get different information back, depending on which sample letter you use.

Consumer Credit Act request under sections 77, 78 and 79

You should be sent a ‘true copy’ of your agreement that is easy to read and a statement of your account signed by your creditor. The ‘true copy’  must contain all the terms and conditions from your original agreement, information about any changes made to the agreement and your name and address at the time that you took out the agreement. It does not have to include a signature box, signature or the date of signature from your original agreement.

The statement of account should be signed by the creditor and tell you:

  • how much you have paid (if you borrowed a fixed amount);
  • how much you still owe; and
  • what you still have to pay and when.

Data Protection Act request

You should get the information that you have asked for. Make sure that you are clear about the information that you want. If you are not clear, the creditor may send you too much information, which you may find unhelpful. If the information is difficult to understand, the creditor should send you a guide to help you make sense of it. If you asked for details of any decision that the creditor made about you, you should be sent an explanation of how they made that decision.

What if I do not get what I asked for?

You have rights to the information that you ask for under these acts and there can be consequences for the creditor, or organisation, if they do not reply properly.

The creditor does not reply to your Consumer Credit Act request under sections 77, 78 and 79

If the creditor does not send you a copy of your agreement and a statement of account within 12 working days, then they are not allowed to take further action against you to enforce the agreement in the court until they do so

Extra advice:

was there a written agreement?

If there never was any written agreement, the creditor cannot send you a copy. If this is the case, the creditor should tell you. But, if the creditor has simply lost your agreement, they must provide a ‘true copy’ with the same details.

In the meantime, the creditor cannot:

  • make you pay off your debt before you’re supposed to;
  • get a court decree against you; or
  • take back anything you've hired or bought on credit, or take anything you used as security (like your house) when you took out the agreement. 

However, they can still:

  • ask you to pay what you owe;
  • send you a letter called a ‘default notice’ if you miss any payments;
  • pass your information on to a credit reference agency (which might affect your credit record);
  • pass your information on to a debt collector;
  • sell your debt to someone else; or
  • take your case to court, although they won’t be able to get a court decree against you unless they give you the information you’re entitled to.

If the creditor has not done what they should have following your request, your debt still exists. If you don’t arrange to pay, the creditor may add interest and other charges, if the terms of the agreement allow them to.

Extra advice:

stopping court action

You can make sure that the creditor does not go any further with the court judgment by asking the court to stop the action. You should ask for a 'stay of proceedings' until they have met the Consumer Credit Act requirements. Contact us for advice.

Warning:

If your creditor complies

If the creditor sends you a copy of your agreement and statement of account at any time after you have requested them, then the creditor can start or continue court action against you to recover the debt.

 

Another company has bought the debt

If the original creditor has sold the debt on to another company, the new company becomes the ‘creditor’ and must deal with your request. If the new company does not agree to do this, they should tell you who can give you the information, or pass your request on to the original creditor themselves. 

The Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS)

If you think that the new company has not behaved as they should, you can make a complaint to the Financial Ombudsman Service. You will have to follow the company’s complaints procedure first. You can only complain to the Financial Ombudsman Service about events that happened from April 2007 onwards. See the later section Useful contacts.

The Financial Conduct Authority

See our fact sheet:

Complaining about your lender.

The Financial Conduct Authority has published detailed advice on how creditors should act in the Consumer Credit sourcebook (CONC) . See the later section Useful contacts

The creditor does not reply to your Data Protection Act request

If the organisation does not send you the information that you requested within 40 days, you could send a reminder by recorded delivery. If you still do not receive a reply, you can report a concern to the Information Commissioner. If the Information Commissioner thinks that the law has been broken, they might tell the company to follow the rules. In serious cases, the Information Commissioner can send the organisation an enforcement notice to force them to send you the information. See the later section Useful contacts.

Extra advice:

getting information under the Data Protection Act

Organisations have to send you the information you ask for under the Data Protection Act, even if they have started court action.

 

Useful contacts

Citizens Advice consumer service
Phone: 0345 404 0506
www.citizensadvice.org.uk/consumer/ 

Financial Conduct Authority (FCA)
Regulator for financial services such as banks and credit companies, insurance companies and mortgage lenders.
Phone: 0800 111 6768
Email: consumer.queries@fca.org.uk
www.fca.org.uk

Financial Ombudsman Service
Phone: 0800 023 4567 or 0300 123 9123
www.financial-ombudsman.org.uk

The Information Commissioner's Office        
http://ico.org.uk