Credit bureaus like Equifax, TransUnion CIBIL, CRIF High Mark, and Experian, all are privy to your sensitive credit-related information. The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) monitors the compilation and use of this information to ensure that you are safe from possible frauds and identity thefts. Here are some guidelines established by the central bank to ensure that your data is protected:
In 2019, RBI observed that lending institutions were sharing the credit information of customers with Fintech companies to expand their business via digital platforms. To maintain the privacy of customers, RBI issued a notification on September 16, 2019, regarding the matter. It stated that the central bank had found banks and lending companies were appointing agents (Fintech companies) that were provided access to credit-related information saved on the credit bureaus’ servers. The RBI condemned such acts and stated that these were against the laws stated under the CICRA Act of 2005.
Initially, the RBI guidelines for sharing credit information allowed only a handful of entities to access it. However, the Credit Information Companies (Regulation) Act, 2005 was amended in November 2021. This amendment states that any “entity engaged in the processing of information, for the support or benefit of credit institutions, and satisfying the criteria laid down by the Reserve Bank” can access the credit histories of citizens. This has enabled Fintech companies to check the credit information of an individual to evaluate their creditworthiness and issue pre-approved offers.
As per the guidelines issued by RBI on September 1, 2016, all citizens can access their credit reports for free, once a year from all four credit bureaus. This helps individuals monitor their credit reports and scores. They can ensure that the changes and updates on their loan and other credit accounts are reflected accurately in their report. Citizens can raise complaints and file grievances in case of any discrepancies. These are usually resolved within 30 days. This ensures that your credit profile is up-to-date, helping you maintain your creditworthiness.
RBI looks to ensure that this sensitive information of borrowers in India is safe from fraudsters and cannot be misused. For this, RBI continues to evolve their guidelines to accommodate the changing needs of citizens. Here are some recent developments you should know about:
In a recent notification issued on October 26, 2023, RBI has asked credit bureaus to intimate citizens whenever their credit information report is accessed by a lender. These alerts shall be sent via SMS or e-mails to the customers. The central bank further clarified that these notifications should be sent to individuals only if the inquiry is reflected in the CIR. Furthermore, credit institutions will also be required to inform their customers when they forward information regarding default or Days Past Due (DPD) to the credit information companies. These norms will come into effect within 6 months.
In case of any discrepancy in your credit report, you can raise a complaint with your respective credit bureau. They will contact your lender and ask for an update in regards to the complaint you have raised. Following this, the credit bureau is expected to make the required changes to your credit report. This process should ideally be completed within 30 days. Recently, RBI proposed that “a compensation mechanism for delayed updation/rectification of credit information” be set up. In case the bureau fails to resolve such complaints and grievances within the set timeframe, they will be required to pay a penalty to the customer as per this guideline. The detailed guidelines for this are yet to be issued publicly.
These are some of the foundational regulations and amendments that affect the way credit information reports are generated and shared. Such guidelines not only help safeguard your private credit-related information but also safeguard you from possible fraud and other malicious activities. Keep these guidelines in mind to ensure that you are legally compliant and safe from having to pay any fines and penalties.
As per RBI regulations you can check your credit information report from each of the four credit bureaus once a year, for free. For any more checks you may be required to pay a nominal fee.
According to the RBI, entities engaged in the management of information to support or help credit institutions can access your credit history. This is possible only if these entities satisfy the criteria specified by the Reserve Bank.
All credit bureaus and credit institutions are required to adhere to the CICRA Act of 2005. The RBI issues guidelines which help in the implementation of these laws.