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Sharing data with Credit Reference Agencies
How we share data with Credit Reference Agencies and what this means for you.
Our Customer Promise explains how we use, store and share your data overall. This guide focusses on how we use, share and protect your data with Credit Reference Agencies.
We comply with UK Data Protection Laws.
Like many other utilities companies, we share your personal data with, and receive your personal data from, Credit Reference Agencies.
This helps us maintain up-to-date customer records, prevent fraud and identify customers at risk of falling into debt. This makes it easier for us to find and help customers who need financial assistance. This helps us manage debt levels and, in turn, keep prices lower for all customers.
If you pay your bill on time, sharing your data will also positively impact your credit rating.
These companies hold and share information about your previous credit history and payment behaviour. This will include whether you have paid bills on time and in full in the past. This data is refreshed and updated every month and contributes towards your credit score.
How your data will be used by Credit Reference Agencies
Information we provide to the Credit Reference Agencies, about you and your payment behaviour, will be used to:
- Prevent crime, fraud and money laundering by checking your details when you apply for credit
- Check the operation of credit and credit related accounts
- Make decisions in relation to credit and credit-related services you use or apply for. Decisions will be made based on information the Credit Reference Agencies have about you, people you are financially associated with and members of your household or business
- Manage your personal, business credit or credit related accounts or other facilities, and those of and your partner
- Determine your current residence and recover any debts owed
- Check if you're eligible for assistance from our financial support options or our Priority Services Register
Sharing payment behaviour information
Every month we will share your outstanding balance and a status reflecting your payment behaviour.
If you pay your bills on time and in full, this will be shared each month along with your account balance and a status “0” which tells the Credit Reference Agency that you are up to date.
If you are over one month late in your payment your credit score may be impacted. If your account is one month behind it will be shared as a “1”, two months behind a “2” and so on, up to a 6 for an account that's six months behind on payments.
If you are on an alternative payment plan, for affordability reasons, or to cover debt on the account, you will be reported as an “i” to Credit Reference Agencies. This indicates to the Credit Reference Agency that a non-standard payment arrangement with Severn Trent is active on your account. We report alternative payment plans as a different payment plan to support other businesses make responsible lending choices.
Where relevant, we also take into consideration the additional needs of some customers who are registered on the Public Service Register.
Details about how we share data with Credit Reference Agencies are in our Privacy Notice. Both of the Credit Reference Agencies we use, TransUnion and Equifax, publish an information notice (also referred to as CRAIN - Credit Reference Agency Information Notice). You can find details of the TransUnion and Equifax CRAINs on their websites.
If you fail to pay your bills or keep up-to-date with the agreed payment arrangement, your account may fall into debt which may lead to a default.
If you don't pay your water and sewerage bill, after we have sent you a reminder, we may register a default with the Credit Reference Agencies which shows you haven't paid us. When a default is registered against you for non-payment, it will remain on your credit file for six years.
We will always write to tell you of our intention to register a default to allow you time to contact us or make payment. If you receive a notice of our intention to register a default we won’t contact you again before we register a default against you, so it’s important you get in touch with us - we’ll do what we can to help.
We’ll go through payment options with you and help you find the best way to pay your bill. If you need some extra help, we can tell you about the financial support schemes available and let you know if they’ll be suitable for you.
If a default is registered with the Credit Reference Agencies, we will continue to report a default status to the Credit Reference Agencies until you have cleared the default balance. Once you have paid it in full, we will notify the Credit Reference Agencies that it has been ‘satisfied’.
The ‘satisfied default’ status will continue to be reported to the Credit Reference Agencies and remain visible to lenders for the remaining part of the six year period. However, satisfying the default may help towards strengthening your credit file.
If you don’t satisfy the default balance, the default status will continue to be reported to the Credit Reference Agencies, however, this may be viewed less favourably by some lenders. After the six years has elapsed, these entries will be deleted with the Credit Reference Agencies and will no longer be visible to lenders
Your credit score
Your credit score is an indication of how financially healthy you are and indicates to other lenders how likely you are to repay a loan, a credit card, a mortgage or pay for a service.
Most companies you deal with will share your payment history and behaviour with Credit Reference Agencies. When you apply for credit in the future, for example for car finance, your future lender could assess your credit score and determine whether they will lend to you in the future.
If you are on a payment assistance scheme or have a history of missing payments or pay late, it can result in a negative credit score and potentially prohibit you from receiving credit in the future.
We are aware that sometimes the scores can be reported incorrectly, and customers get scored either with the wrong score, or circumstances out of their control lead to their credit score being negatively impacted. Please contact us if you feel that you have been scored incorrectly in your latest credit file.
Please be aware that we will not change credit scores unless we consider that:
- There has been an error in our processes.
- There has been an exceptional circumstance that has prohibited you from paying your bill, in accordance with our policy. We will ask for further information or documentation relating to this before amending your credit score.
Maintaining good credit scores
The easiest way to maintain a good credit score is to pay your bills when they are due, or to have payment plans in place which means making regular payments of a specific agreed amount on agreed payment dates. This payment covers your usage on a weekly, monthly or yearly basis.
If you are on a payment assistance scheme, such as the Big Difference Scheme or have a non-standard arrangement to pay, these will be reported differently to Credit Reference Agencies and could affect your credit score.
Payment plans which can impact your credit file are:
- Big Difference Scheme (England Only)
- Water Direct - where payment for water and sewerage bill is deducted directly from benefits payments
- Non-standard payment arrangement - where payments are below the required amount to cover charges and/or arrears in full (these are reviewed regularly)
It will state on your bill if you're on one of these plans. If you're unsure, contact our team to find out what payment plan you're on. You can change your payment details, payment method or payment date online or contacting our billing team.
Additional help is also available from Consumer Council for Water, who offer free online tools to help water customers in financial difficulty. Their benefits calculator can help you identify whether you qualify for any means-tested benefits, while the grants search tool will help you see if you qualify for assistance from charitable trust funds.
More help and support
If you have any further questions about the above policy, please don’t hesitate to contact us and we will try to answer any of your questions.
We know that sometimes it’s difficult to pay your bills. If you ever need a helping hand, we’ve got several financial assistance schemes