Almost every adult in England and Wales could get share of £34 BILLION from High Court case

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Almost every adult in England and Wales could get £750 share of £34 BILLION claim against credit checker Experian

Credit checker firm Experian holds information on about 46 million individuals  Representative claimant Liz Williams, 58, filed a writ at the High Court on Friday Case could see nearly all England and Wales adults sharing £34 billion damages

By Jake Ryan For The Mail On Sunday

Published: 22:04 GMT, 27 February 2021 | Updated: 22:38 GMT, 27 February 2021

Lawyers acting for a representative claimant – Liz Williams, a 58-year-old mother-of-four from Gillingham in Dorset – filed a writ at the High Court on Friday in a case that threatens to cripple the credit company

Credit firm Experian is being sued in a landmark High Court case that could see almost every adult in England and Wales share a £34 billion damages pot, The Mail on Sunday can reveal.

The Anglo-Irish giant, which holds information on about 46 million individuals, is accused of mis-selling people’s data and building potentially inaccurate profiles that can affect decisions on credit.

Lawyers acting for a representative claimant – Liz Williams, a 58-year-old mother-of-four from Gillingham in Dorset – filed a writ at the High Court on Friday in a case that threatens to cripple the credit company. Her claim is for £750 in damages.

It accuses Experian of collecting data on people from a raft of sources, which include online questionnaires and website-tracking cookies, and selling it on for commercial gain.

The claim follows an Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) enforcement notice last October that found Experian was selling people’s data on to third parties, including political parties, without their consent and imposed a £20 million fine. The company has launched an appeal.

Ms Williams’s writ states that the firm’s ‘processing and the profiling [of personal data] was neither fair nor transparent’ and the selling of data was made without consent.

If successful, every one of about 46 million people in England and Wales – 95 per cent of the adult population – whose personal data is held by Experian could be entitled to the same payment, taking total damages to £34.5 billion.

Companies and even political parties use Experian’s data to check credit-worthiness, market certain products or target them with messaging. The firm collects the data from a host of third-party sources

Ms Williams, an IT company director, answered an appeal for potential claimants to come forward as a representative for the case brought by law firm Harcus Parker. 

She said: ‘I didn’t realise my [Experian] report contained information that gave away the game on what I was doing online and elsewhere, and was being sold on. I had left plenty of tracks even though I never consent to cookies and never consent to sharing information. We need the legal levers to impose a penalty on bad behaviour.’

Companies and even political parties use Experian’s data to check credit-worthiness, market certain products or target them with messaging. The firm collects the data from a host of third-party sources.

A profile rates how likely a person is to gamble online, which supermarket they may use or newspaper they read. 

The rating is also affected by a person’s postcode, which means the attributes of an area – including the educational attainment and health levels of the local population – will alter scores.

It is feared the profiles, which can be inaccurate, are being sold on to deny people credit. Ed Parkes, of Harcus Parker, said: ‘We hope this case will deter future disrespect of laws on personal data.’

Experian said: ‘We disagree with the ICO’s view and we are appealing. We do not believe there are any reasonable grounds for bringing this case.’

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