It’s been a long, three-year battle, but there is finally good news for consumers regarding credit cards, as States Members have unanimously supported a proposal to allow credit reference agencies the access to the personal data that they need.
Since first publicly raising the issue in early 2020, and then directly engaging with the Government of Jersey in early 2023, the Jersey Consumer Council has been fielding calls and responding to emails from hundreds of Islanders, who’ve experienced being turned down for credit cards, additional family cards or store cards, or who’ve had their accounts closed based purely on their JE postcode.
And, last year, hundreds of Islanders responded to our credit card survey, the anonymous data from which we shared with the Government during meetings this year.
The Government has taken on board our concerns, and the concerns of Island consumers, and has this year been working on a solution to allow credit reference agencies the access to the personal data that they need to process credit card applications.
We’re delighted that the States Assembly has now today (Tuesday, 3 October) supported a legislative tweak that will allow credit-checking agencies to access Jersey’s official Register of Names and Addresses.
In the UK, the electoral register is a key source of information for these agencies, however Jersey law previously prevented them from accessing our local register, and they are unable to use any other sources of public information. This change will make it easier for these companies to access information in Jersey, which we hope will see an end to the credit card issues that Islanders have been experiencing in recent years.
Speaking in the States Assembly, the Social Security Minister, Deputy Elaine Millar, said that the solution proposed through this proposition would 'enable the Government to deliver to credit reference agencies, in a secure manner, information similar to that contained within an electroral role'.
Deputy Millar added: "I'd like to recognise the work done by the Jersey Consumer Council in identifying the scale of this particular issue, and it's campaigning work, with both the banks and the Government, to try and find the reasons for, and the solution to, this problem."
Our Chairman, Carl Walker, said: “I’m delighted to see three years of hard work by the Jersey Consumer Council culminate in unanimous approval by the States Assembly for this law change, which will make credit card applications much simpler for Jersey residents.
“This is a great example of collaborative working between the Jersey Consumer Council and the Government of Jersey.
“The Council appreciates that data privacy and security are of utmost importance and concern to Islanders, especially as online fraud continues to bombard consumers on an almost daily basis. In this regard, the Consumer Council backed this move on the understanding that the Government will implement robust measures to safeguard Islanders’ personal information and ensure compliance with relevant data protection laws.
“And while we are extremely mindful of the risks involved in using credit cards in terms of falling into debt, we are supportive of this move as credit cards not only offer vital consumer protection under the Consumer Credit Act 1974, but also give Islanders an important fraud safety net when shopping online, and when ‘tapping’ or using wireless forms of payment.
“Furthermore, having access to a more comprehensive credit history, financial institutions can make better informed decisions about credit card applications. This fosters responsible lending practices and reduces the risk of individuals obtaining credit they cannot manage."