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Millions could be due £750 payout as landmark legal claim filed against Experian - what you need to know

A landmark legal claim launched against credit reference agency Experian could see 49.8 million adults in England and Wales in line for compensation worth £750 each if successful - although there are no guarantees. Here's what you need to know.

The claim, which launched in the High Court on 26 February, alleges that Experian sold data collected on nearly 50 million adults in England and Wales to advertisers for targeted marketing - without their permission. The case, which was launched by law firm Harcus Parker, claims this is a significant breach of rules known as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

Experian, however, 'completely disagrees' that there are 'any reasonable grounds' to pursue the claim. The case comes after data regulator, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), took enforcement action against Experian last year. It told Experian to tell people that it holds their personal data and to make clear how it is using or intends to use it for marketing purposes by July 2021. Experian maintains that it disagrees with the ICO's decision and is in the process of appealing.  

The firm is what's known as a credit reference agency (CRA). CRAs compile information, allowing them to send data from sources, such as the electoral roll and court records, on any UK individual to prospective lenders. But Experian says this issue isn't about its CRA business and instead refers to its separate marketing arm. Use our How to check your credit report for FREE guide to get your report.

You don't need to opt in to be part of the claim

The case has been filed as what's known as ‘representative action’. This means that while Harcus Parker is launching the case on behalf of one person, if it's successful, it would win compensation on behalf of all those affected by the issue, which the firm says is almost 50 million people. This means you don't need to opt in to the claim - you're automatically included.

Harcus Parker believes, based on similar English cases and on European case law, that people could be due compensation worth £750 each. The claim is only on behalf of adults in England and Wales though, so if you're in another part of the UK, you won't be included.

However, while the sums of money quoted in this case are large, representative actions like this are often unsuccessful, so there's no guarantee you'll get a payout. 

What does Experian say?

A spokesperson for Experian said: “For more than 30 years, our offline marketing-services business – which is separate from our credit-reporting business – has supported thousands of small companies, charities and public bodies, using publicly available data such as the census and the edited electoral roll. It does not use any cookies to track or monitor internet behaviour and does not collect data on actual customer purchases.”

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