Barbados’ recently proclaimed Fair Credit Reporting Act was designed to standardise credit reporting activities in Barbados, including providing greater transparency for consumers, who will now be more aware of what information credit bureaus are collecting about them and with whom it is being shared.
This was explained by the Central Bank of Barbados, which has been given responsibility for regulating the activities of credit bureaus in Barbados.
“The Bank understands that as with most innovations, there will be associated concerns. Credit reporting is no different, hence our thrust in relation to public education,” said Elson Gaskin, the organisation’s Bank Secretary and co-chair of the working group that advised on the drafting of the Fair Credit Reporting Bill, in response to concerns raised by an existing credit bureau about the new legislation and how it will impact its operations.
Gaskin also reiterated that consumer protection is a central tenet of the Act. “No credit information can be collected or shared either domestically or externally without the consent of a data subject. And with regard to information being shared across borders, this is designed to facilitate persons who are migrating and need to establish a credit history. It is analogous to migrating with personal possessions. Further, even if a data subject consents, the credit information sharing is only with countries that the Bank is satisfied have legal rules in place to ensure data privacy and security.”
Under the new legislation, malicious breaches of data privacy carry a penalty of BDS $50,000.
The attorney-at-law further explained that people are also entitled to one free copy of their credit report each year and have redress should they believe the information in it is inaccurate.
Specifically addressing the matter of existing credit bureaus being disadvantaged because the sector will now be regulated, Gaskin revealed that the drafters of the Fair Credit Reporting legislation considered those entities that were already in operation.
“There is a provision under the Act that gives existing credit bureaus six months to transition their operations to comply with the requirements of the Act during which time they can continue to operate. This legislation was carefully drafted to enhance credit reporting in Barbados. As such, we consulted with a broad range of stakeholders. Persons representing the interest of credit bureaus were part of the working group.”