In this brief blog, we are going to talk about CIFAS and its role in the UK finance and credit market. This could potentially help boost your credit.

What is a Cifas record?

A Cifas record is a record uploaded by a third-party organisation on Cifas if you have been a victim of fraud, identity theft or committed an act of fraud.

What does cifas stand for?

Cifas is the Uk’s largest fraud sharing database. The fraud database contains information from law enforcement, companies, individuals and the public sector. Since 1988Cifas has helped Uk organisations prevent themselves from fraud. There are over 400 organisations which currently provide and share fraud data. This data helps other organisations out there avoid fraudsters and hence allows them to save a lot of money.

This data is also shared with law enforcement, police and the public sector to help spot and deter fraud. This could be the identification and recording of false documents which have been used in the past to prevent them from being reused again with other organisations.

On its collaboration with law enforcement Cifas states “ We supply Cifas members’ fraud reports to the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB) on a daily basis, to support the development of crime packages disseminated to UK police for investigation and enforcement.

Our crime data is also supplied to the National Crime Agency (NCA) and police to support specific operations into a spectrum of criminality, including suspected money laundering, fraud, corrupt professionals, and other types of serious and organised crime. We are a trusted partner to the Home Office, NCA, City of London and Metropolitan Police in the pursuit of financial crime.  “

Cifas also provides services to organisations.

Internal fraud database

The internal fraud database is a database which companies can use to prevent them from interacting with individuals who could have fraudulent intent. The internal fraud database is added to regularly by companies who have confirmed fraud cases carried out by identified individuals.

National fraud database

As a Cifas member, you will have access to the national fraud database which helps prevent over £1bn in financial loss from financial crimes each year. The national fraud database is being added to every year and over three hundred entries are added every year.

By using the national fraud database you will be able to save money by accessing data on potential fraudsters.

Protecting the vulnerable

Protecting the vulnerable population is a very important aspect of treating people fairly. Vulnerable people are more at risk to fraud as they cannot protect themselves.

Cifas allows you to protect vulnerable people in your care if you are a local authority, healthcare trust, solicitors and members of the public.

“A person will be considered vulnerable when they are subject to a Court Order of Protection (or Deputyship and Appointeeship cases) under the Mental Capacity Act 2005 and deemed as incapable of managing their own finances.”

You may be able to use the Cifas service to protect someone who is vulnerable if you have a court protection order or power of attorney.

Since starting this service over five thousand vulnerable people have been protected on behalf of four solicitors and twenty five local authorities

On the about us section of the website, Cifas states “Cifas is governed by its Board. The Board is responsible for the entrepreneurial leadership of the organisation: setting strategic direction and aims and measuring performance against strategic objectives as well as scrutinising risks and controls. It is responsible for determining Cifas’ vision, mission and values and holding the Chief Executive account for the organisation’s performance. The Board is led by the Chairman and also has oversight of the Advisory Board and its work.

The Advisory Board has delegated responsibility from the Board to monitor the operational effectiveness of Cifas, and understand and represent the interests of its principal stakeholders: Cifas’ membership, but also other users of its services, including members of the public. In fulfilling this purpose, the Advisory Board advises both the Executive and Board.

Led by the Chief Executive and Chief Operating Officer, Cifas is managed by its Executive Group.  “

They also state that organisations save £200for every £1 they spend with Cifas.

You can join and be a member in one of the 4 ways below.

Cifas Immigration Portal Users

Internal Fraud Database Members

National Fraud Database Members

Affiliate Members

How long does a cifas NOTE stay on file?

A Cifas note can stay on your credit file for as long as 6 years.u003cbru003e A protective registration will stay on your file for 2 years whilst a victim of impersonation marker will stay on your file for 13 months.u003cbru003eThe different notes include:u003cbru003eu003cbru003eProtective Registrationu003cbru003eVictim of impersonationu003cbru003eFirst-party fraudu003cbru003eFacility takeoveru003cbru003eMisuse of facility u003cbru003eAsset Conversion Fraudu003cbru003eApplication fraudu003cbru003eInsurance Claims Fraudu003cbru003eu003cbru003e

Is cifas safe?

Yes Cifas is safe. It can help you prevent your data being used by third parties by getting its protective registration feature which costs £25 for two years.

Is Cifas Protection good?

Yes, Cifas protection is good. It states on their website “ Once you have Protective Registration, we place a flag alongside your name and personal details in our secure National Fraud Database. Companies and organisations who are signed up as members of the database will see you’re at risk and take extra steps to protect you, preventing fraudsters from using your details to apply for products and services.u003cbru003eu003cbru003eProtective Registration offers peace of mind and a reduction in the risk of becoming a victim of fraud. As such, when you apply for financial products and services, the process may take slightly longer than before, as extra checks will be made on applications with your details. Companies who are signed up to our database may also get in touch with you to make those checks before processing your application.”u003cbru003eu003cbru003e

What are the Cifas categories?

The Cifas categories are:u003cbru003eProtective Registrationu003cbru003eVictim of impersonationu003cbru003eFirst party fraudu003cbru003eFacility takeoveru003cbru003eMisuse of facility u003cbru003eAsset Conversion Fraudu003cbru003eApplication fraudu003cbru003eInsurance Claims Fraudu003cbru003eu003cbru003e

Can I open a bank account with a Cifas marker?

Yes, you can open a bank account with a Cifas marker but the bank account opening process may be longer and require much more verification than normal.

What is Cifas protective registration?

Cifas protective registration are for people who are worried that their identity may have been stolen. For two years Cifas will monitor any usage of your identity details to ensure you are the one making use of it and not a fraudster. This will usually cost you around £25.u003cbru003eu003cbru003eIf you want to get the protective registration then you should fill in the protective registration form online or call on 0330 100 0180 (Monday to Friday from 8am to 8pm, and weekends and bank holidays from 9am to 5pm).u003cbru003eu003cbru003e

How to get your data from Cifas

If you want to get your data you should submit a subject access request. You cna do this on the website or via post. Submitting a subject access request online will be the much faster option. 

You may want to get a subject access request if you have been declined credit by a lender for credit. A Cifas marker may be one of the reasons you were declined credit.

To determine the reason why you have been declined credit you should get your credit report from all the four credit reference agencies. The credit agencies are Experian, Equifax, Transunion and Crediva.

Under the data protection legislation you can get all the data an organisation holds about you for free (in most cases). 

You can do this online:

To do this online you will need to submit the below data and then verify yourself via an online verification system. The online verification service is provided by Equifax. You will be asked a lot of questions about your financial life and other person details which you will know. The online verification service will also look to verify the device on which you are filling in your subject access request from. If you pass the online verification then your subject access request will be successful. If you don’t then you may need to retry or submit your subject access request via post.

The information you will need to provide for an online subject access request for Cifas includes:

“Title:

First Name*:

Middle Name:

Surname*:

Previous names:

Date Of Birth(dd/mm/yyyy)*:

Current Address

Postcode*:

Flat:

House No.:

House Name:

Street*:

District:

Town*:

Years at address*:

Please enter the number of complete years you have lived at the address. If you have lived at your address less than 1 year, please enter 1.

Previous Address within 6 years

Please note, failure to include any previous addresses may result in us being unable to verify your identity.

Postcode*:

Flat:

House No.:

House Name:

Street*:

District:

Town*:

Years at address*:

Please enter the number of complete years you have lived at the address. If you have lived at your address less than 1 year, please enter 1.

Remove this address

Add another address

Home Tel:

Mobile Tel:

Email Address: “

You can also submit your Cifas subject access request via post.

To do this you will need to send the below documents to this address.

Consumer Affairs

Cifas

6th Floor, Lynton House

7-12 Tavistock Square

London

WC1H 9LT

You should also include a letter with the below information:

Your full name

Your date of birth

Your address history for the last 6 years

Your contact details such as your home telephone and mobile number and email addresses.

You will also need to provide two forms of ID such as your driving license and your passport or an original bank statement or utility bill which is dated within the last 3 months, has your full name and has your full address.

These documents must be original documents as photocopies or printed copies of the document will not be accepted for your subject access request.

Once your subject access request has been processed your original documents will be returned to you. If you do not have original documents to use then you should contact Cifas to discuss any alternative options.

There is also a subject access form which you can download and fill in. You can find it here. 

By law, your subject access request must be responded to within one month and you should receive the information or all information Cifas holds about you within this time.

The data you provide Cifas when making your subject access request will be held for up to 6 years. This is a standard practice for most organisations.

Once you have received your subject access request if you find any information which you think shouldn’t be there or any information you want to dispute then the process below explains how you can do this.

How to remove a CIFAS marker

Step 1

You can try and remove a cifas marker by disputing the data that is held about you. In the first instance, you should look to complain to the company which has made the listing and ensure they have noted your complaint down.  If the organisation feel you have a valuable case then they will look to uphold your complaint and delete the information that they hold on their systems.

Don’t forget to ensure you state what you are complaining about, ensure you keep records of all correspondence and copies of any supporting documents you have sent.

Step 2

The organisation will investigate and should issue you a final resolution letter which will state if they have upheld your complaint or if they are sticking to their previous conclusions. This final resolution letter will usually arrive within 8 weeks after your initial complaint.

Step 3

If you are still unhappy then you can take your complaint to Cifas who will then undertake an independent review and let you know what their decision is.

You should include the below information when submitting your complaint to Cifas.

“ Your full name and date of birth

Your current address and any other addresses you’ve lived at or used in the last five years

A copy of your Final Response letter from the organisation

Copies of any other correspondence that supports your case

A brief explanation of why you think the Cifas warning is unwarranted.  “

You will usually hear back within 14 days but some cases may be so complicated that it requires more than 14 days.

Step 4

If you are still unhappy about this then you can report the case to the regulator which oversees the company. For most financial companies this will be the financial ombudsman service.

How do I contact cifas?

You can contact CIfas via the Cifas website.

There are a variety of reasons you may want to contact CIFAS.

You may want to contact Cifas to:

Sign up for protective registration

Find out what information CIFAS holds about you

You may want to register your company for Cifas membership

You may want to apply for a Cifas job

You may want to protect a vulnerable person who is in your care

You may want to get training for fraud and financial crime prevention

You can contact Cifas via phone on 0330 100 0180 (Monday to Friday from 8am to 8pm, and weekends and bank holidays from 9am to 2pm – the line will be open throughout the holiday period with the exception of Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day).

Or via post at:

Consumer Affairs, Cifas

6th Floor, Lynton House

7-12 Tavistock Square

London

WC1H 9LT

The very serious issues with CIFAS

CIFAS is not regulated by anybody. In fact, it is a not for profit membership association with no entity above it which regulates it and provides guidelines on how it can collect, assess and store data. Cifas is, therefore, its own entity with no oversight whatsoever from any branch of government or any trade body.

The main issue with CIFAS is that its members can update their records and place CIFAS markers on unsuspecting individuals who may very well be innocent of what they have been accused of and there is no notification requirement by CIFAS to their members to ensure those who have CIFAS markers are aware of it. Cifas will also not notify you of these CIFAS markers. 

In fact, the framework for which companies and members of CIFAS can update or enrol data isn’t completely foolproof. It provides no accountability on the members part to be able to prove with some certainty that the marker they have placed on a users profile and be validated.

Most users will never know that they have a CIFAS marker on their profile until they have been rejected for credit numerous times and now have to obtain their credit file through one of the credit bureaus such as Transunion, Crediva, Experian and Equifax. You can also use services such as clearscore and checkmyfile.

Once you have obtained your credit report you should be able to seethe CIFAS marker on your credit file. If you can’t see the marker then maybe it hasn’t updated on your credit file yet. It may be on your other credit files from the other credit bureaus but in any case, you should contact Cifas and perform a subject access request to get all the information CIfas holds on you. You can perform a Cifas subject access request on the CIfas website.

A quick search for CIFAS marker online will reveal numerous cases where a CIFAS marker has been placed on someone’s profile and they have no clue about this until they have been rejected for credit. In many of these cases, the CIFAS markers have been placed based on the gut feeling if the CIFAS member or based on guesswork or assumptions but these Cifas markers could ruin someone’s credit file and hence their ability to get credit in the future.

The Cifas marker could ruin job opportunities and even more.

The idea of fraud prevention is great but the way CIFAS and its members have gone about it may be doing much more harm than good and serious consideration needs to be placed on the framework upon which Cifas markers are put and the victims of false Cifas markers.

In this brief guide, we discussed Cifas. If you have any questions or comments please let us know.