Consumer Credit Rating Firms Need Reform, Says U.K. Watchdog

Britain's 'highly concentrated' consumer credit ratings market used for obtaining loans is not working well, and a new industry body to help improve the quality of scores is needed, the Financial Conduct Authority said on Tuesday, Reuters reported. Experian, Equifax and TransUnion make up almost all of the Britain's 800 million pound ($946.32 million) credit reference agencies (CRAs) sector. Switching between them is difficult, the FCA said in an interim report, which found no competition concerns that require immediate action. Credit agencies also help verify the identity of consumers to combat fraud and help with affordability assessments. "The credit information sector needs to work well to support retail lending and to help ensure that credit is offered only where appropriate and at a fair price," the watchdog said. An industry committee for lenders and raters to share credit information on consumers is too narrow, with no representatives from consumers or 'challenger' companies. There are significant differences in credit information held by the three big companies, which are "very likely" to affect lending decisions by banks, the FCA said. Read more.