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Inaccurate Information from Citi/ Opus. Do I need a solicitor?


Vaynag
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I feel well and truly stuck with this. Not sure what to do next. Just had a deflating conversation with the ICO

 

This relates to entries on my credit files stating an 'Arrangement to Pay' (AR) from Citi Cards - and now Opus.

 

I'll summarise where I'm up to:

  • Nov 2010 - Got credit files (x3) and noticed Citi had reported an an 'Arrangement to Pay' from April 2010.
     
  • 28 Nov 2010 - Wrote to Citi, CallCredit, Equifax and Experian asking them to verify or remove this as it was untrue.
     
  • Dec 2010 - CallCredit and Equifax removed the entry from my file completely
     
  • 3rd Jan 2011 - Experian removed the entry from my file completely
     
  • 6th Jan 2011 - The exact same information shows up on my credit files again, but this time under an entry from Opus Cards
  • NB: Opus bought the account from Citi in Nov/ Dec 2010
     
  • 6th Jan 2011 - Wrote to Opus, CallCredit, and Experian asking them to verify or remove this as it was untrue [Didn't show on Equifax].
     
  • 17th Jan 2011 - Letter from Opus asking me to call them.
     
  • 17th Jan 2011 - Wrote to Opus outlining the situation again. Reminded them that the ICO gave them 28days from the 6th Jan to rectify.
     
  • 4th Feb 2011 - email from CallCredit saying that Opus didn't respond to their request for validation so they were 'suppressing' the entry until they hear back from them.
     
  • 8th Feb 2011 - Letter from Opus saying that they'd received my complaint and would respond to me in 8 weeks.
     
  • *8th Feb 2011 - Sent SAR to Opus and also stated that they'd broken the ICO's guidelines and I would be following this up and seeking legal advice.
     
  • 8th Feb 2011 - Rang ICO. He said I had solid grounds for a complaint, but not to expect a case worker for at least 8 weeks as they were very busy :mad2:
     
  • 8th Feb 2011 - Collating all letters, proofs of postage and filling in the ICO's complaint letter ready for postage tomorrow.

Is that it... Wait 8 weeks for some slow moving machinery to creeek into action?

 

I'm pretty sure I know what's happened. In April, Citi called me and told me they could no longer accept payments by direct debit. I paid on my debit card and told them to take their regular payment off that. My bank shows Citi being paid with DD then POS from April. The payments were taken and as far as I can see they we're no different to my DD payments.

 

An 'arrangment to pay' it was not - only in the same way my Direct Debit payment was an 'arrangement to pay'.

 

Is there anythin I can 'force' them to do sooner than 8 weeks?

 

I note Experian haven't got back to me yet either (currently the only reporters of this status). I suspect Opus haven't returned their calls either....

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I have taken a few companies to court to force them to correct their records under the Data Protection Act. (http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1998/29/section/14)

 

Before you can do that (the nuclear option) you need to give the Data Controller 40 days to correct the data. After that, if it remains wrong, I would send a Letter Before Action too giving them a further 14 days, by Special Delivery to the Data Controller of the company. The register can be searched here: http://www.ico.gov.uk/ESDWebPages/search.asp

 

I would ignore the credit reference agencies and focus all of your attention on Opus to get this corrected.

 

I know you are probably angry and want to blame the CRAs too and quiet rightly you should, they seem to accept what they are told with a pinch of salt. However, it is better to focus on the organisation providing them with the information as the CRAs are used to defending all claims and it would be a waste of time going after them and confuse you even more.

 

Are you 100% sure that the data is inaccurate? Is it some sort of discontinued credit card they are allowing to be paid off over time instead of in full? They might have a defence that it is accurate.

 

Are you wanting to apply for credit elsewhere and thinking this "arrangement to pay" will make you look like you are in some way struggling?

 

One thing to note though, even the court option takes ages, (over a year for me to get to a hearing!) so you might as well get your ICO complaint in straight away if they refuse to "correct" it.

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Before you can do that (the nuclear option) you need to give the Data Controller 40 days to correct the data.

 

In my case is that 40 days from the 6th Jan?

 

After that, if it remains wrong, I would send a Letter Before Action too giving them a further 14 days, by Special Delivery to the Data Controller of the company. The register can be searched here: ico.gov.uk/ESDWebPages/search.asp

 

Tried that. Can't find Opus on there. Their site says: Opus is a trademark of CC Asset Management Limited, which is used under licence by Bank of Scotland plc. I wasn't sure about where to send the SAR to so I rang Opus and they told me to send it to customer services

 

I would ignore the credit reference agencies and focus all of your attention on Opus to get this corrected.

 

I know you are probably angry and want to blame the CRAs too and quiet rightly you should, they seem to accept what they are told with a pinch of salt. However, it is better to focus on the organisation providing them with the information as the CRAs are used to defending all claims and it would be a waste of time going after them and confuse you even more.

 

Sounds like good advice!

 

Are you 100% sure that the data is inaccurate? Is it some sort of discontinued credit card they are allowing to be paid off over time instead of in full? They might have a defence that it is accurate.

 

Nope, it's a fully functioning credit card. AFAIK Citi got into trouble last year and dumped all their accounts on Opus. I suspect that Opus haven't got any evidence from Citi, just some electronic records that they cannot verify. which may explain why they're being unreasonable

 

Are you wanting to apply for credit elsewhere and thinking this "arrangement to pay" will make you look like you are in some way struggling?

 

Yes

 

One thing to note though, even the court option takes ages, (over a year for me to get to a hearing!) so you might as well get your ICO complaint in straight away if they refuse to "correct" it.

 

Worst case scenario, it'll make me feel better :-)

 

Thanks for your advice. I'm going to read up on a Letter Before Action and give it to them with both barrels...

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Worst case scenario, it'll make me feel better :-)

 

Thanks for your advice. I'm going to read up on a Letter Before Action and give it to them with both barrels...

 

You can send them the Letter Before Action now and give them 14 days. Always have it look like you have been reasonable.

 

Make sure you send it Special Delivery. Recorded sometimes doesn't work out...

 

I think what might have happened is the only way they can have your debit card pay each month is to enter your information on some arrears payment system so it can take it. So now it looks like you are someone behind in payments making an arrangement to pay.

 

You need to remind them that you never entered an "arrangement to pay" were never behind with payments and always made the required minimum payment. Your account live without restriction and you feel an error has been made in the inputting it as an "arrangement to pay".

 

Send them a photocopy of what they are reporting to the CRA and advise them that some lenders deduce an "arrangement to pay" means the customer is struggling or behind payments.

 

You really need to spell it out to them. I worked for a credit card company 10 years ago and it amazed me how some of the employees managed to dress themselves in the morning. LOL!

 

If that doesn't work then legal action usually gets them to jump up off their seats. Advise them that once proceedings have commenced you may make an application for an injunction against them for reporting this, claim all legal costs against them and you will be sending the court file/copies of all communications with them to the Office of Fair Trading, Consumer Credit Fitness Enforcement Section.

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  • 3 weeks later...
I do get the impression that OPUS has purchased a whole heap of trouble from a devious underhanded US bank.

 

You've got that right, in my case Citi sold them an account in dispute over PPI in which Citi had already accepted the ruling of the FOS that they had acted incorrectly & mis sold the policy but refused to follow FOS guidelines to rectify it.

 

They then sold the account with a balance of around £500 to Opus whilst there was an outstanding claim against them for £7,000 (that is just off to court) additionally I'm claiming late fee's another £3,000. Not such a good deal for Opus whatever they paid Citi for my account even if it was the full oustanding balance (which I doubt) it would still be about £9,500 too much :o)

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hi,

 

I'm interested, if not surprised, to hear that I'm not the only one with problems arising out of the CitiCard/Opus transfer. I too had an outstanding complaint with CitiCards at the time of transfer to Opus - missing payment that shows up on my bank statement as having been paid by debit card and which my bank has confirmed was paid to CitiCard in October 2010. Since then, despite knowing the account is in dispute, Opus has busily continued adding charges and interest and their collections team has been mithering the hell out of me. Pity their complaints department isn't has clued up but so far this complaint has been running 5 months and I am not further on than where I was last year with it.

 

I contacted the FOS yesterday after 2 frustrating phone calls with Opus collections dept. I actually wanted the complaints dept. but they don't take phone calls apparently! I asked the collections dept. several times to name the company behind Opus which I pointed out from their own correspondence is just a trademark name. They insisted there is such a company called Opus even when I referred them to their own letterheads. I understand from the FOS that it is actually the Bank of Scotland operating this card and contrary to what I had been told by "opus" staff over several months, Bank of Scotland has informed the FOS that they have NOT taken over existing disputes with CitiCard - those remain with them to sort out. So my initial complaint to CitiCard remains with them and that is who I need to complain about to the FOS when I send the form in. I have complaints anyway about the way Opus have mishandled the complaint and how BOS have nmanaged to confuse everything by using these meaningless names to hide behind. Opus also uses a Box Number rather than a proper address - handy to avoid getting recorded and special delivery post which can't be sent to PO Boxes. I believe the Royal Mail have to provide the true address behind a box number if its requested but how many people know that? But I'll be sending all my legal stuff to BOS as well as "Opus" in Sheffield now.

 

Will be interested to follow this thread. Good Luck.

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PS to OP - Have you considered issuing a Section 10 Notice under the DPA? I have successfully used this section against British Gas to remove false information from credit reference files.

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Just for information dispite what Opus claim there is no company registered in the UK at Companies House called simply Opus nor under other names that they have reffered to themselves as in letters to me such as Opus Cards, Opus Credit Card.

 

Additionally I have a letter from Citi which clearly states that my account was being transfered to Bank Of Scotland, it does mention the Opus brand but the letter from Citi is clear that the legal transfer of the account was to Bank Of Scottland.

 

As far as Bank of Scotland telling the FOS that they have NOT taken over existing disputes with CitiCard & that these remain with them to sort out I would like to see them argue that one in court. To my knowledge when an account is sold or transfered the responsibility goes with it.

 

Thought that you might find this useful regarding the responsibility of a sold/transferred/assigned account.

 

The burden of a contract cannot in principle be transferred so as to discharge the original contracting party without the consent of the other party. There are two exceptions to this, if the contractual rights have been assigned, those rights will be subject to the original contract. An instance of this is seen in Britain & Overseas Trading Ltd v Brooks Wharf Ltd, an exemption clause in the original contract was binding on the assignee of the contract. Such cases are examples of the "conditional benefit" principle. This principle applies where the right which has been assigned is on the condition that certain restrictions are observed. These are an intrinsic part of the right, so that the burden is annexed to the benefit of the contract. Therefore, the person with the benefit must perform the burden, or otherwise forgo the benefit. Whether a conditional benefit arises is dependent upon the proper construction of the contract.

 

Additionally the following should be noted from Jeffery Jenkins vs Young Brothers Transport ltd Williams’ submission reflects what according to Treitel is the "general rule", namely that the assignee of a benefit of a contract makes no promise to perform the obligations of the assignor and in such a case, the assignee does not become liable under the contract. (See Young v Kitchin [1878] 3EX.D.127).

 

However, Treitel sets out exceptions to this general rule (see Treitel page 702). An example is where the obligation to perform a contract in place of the assignor is annexed to the assignment of the benefit of the contract. Where this is the case, the assignee must perform the burden of the contract or forego the benefit if he fails to do so. Treitel describes this as the "conditional benefit principle", which arises where the right assigned is conditional or qualified, the condition being that certain restrictions should be observed or certain burdens assumed (see Tito v Waddell (No.2) 290 et seq)

 

So the benefits of debt are intrinsically linked to the burden of the debt, in our case Opus has bought the benefits of the debts and can't profit from the benefits of the debt without also taking on the burden of obligation.

 

You can't assign the burden of a contract but Debt falls under the conditional benefit principle so the burden is part of the benefit.

 

Thats why banks have no liability once they sell the debt on hence Citi now washing it's hands and ignoring us. If banks could only sell the benefits of a contract then they would be open to court action from debtors for incorrectly drawn up agreements even after the sale of the debt.

 

When debts are sold debt purchasing companies, banks or debt collectors buy debt from other banks they take on the benefit of the contract and along with that the burden and responsibility. If this is not the case then the question in regards to the complete and total diminished liability of a lender post sale of a debt still remains in question.

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From the conversations I've had with both the regular Customer Services Agents & the Complaints Department I would say both, they don't seem to have a clue what they are doing or what their responsibilities are as well as not appearing to know what they are permitted to do & what is unlawful & constitutes harassment. I had on person say to me that they could call me as much as they like at whatever time they liked, when I pointed out that there were permitted hours as well as a maximum number of allowable calls per day she informed me that she knew that & also that they were allowed to call up to 10 times a day :o) how ill informed these people are.

 

They always seem to be listening & be helpful but are completely unwilling or unable to do anything despite what they tell you over the phone. I have even received one of their letters informing me that they will no longer correspond with me on this matter & that all future letters will be treated as information only & that they will not put my account into dispute. Funny I had a letter from Citi containing exactly the same line about not corresponding with me before. maybe they think if they ignore the problem it'll go away :o)

 

The only time they actually seemed to sit up & listen was when I called the complaints department & asked for their legally registered address, she asked why & the whole tone of the conversation changed when I informed them that I required it so that legal documents could be served on them by the court.

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