Schufa

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SCHUFA Holding AG
(trading as Schufa)
Aktiengesellschaft
Industry Credit bureau
Founded 1927
Headquarters Wiesbaden, Germany
Key people
Michael Freytag (Chairman of the board of directors), Alexander Boldyreff (Chairman of the supervisory board)
Website www.schufa.de

Schufa Holding AG (German: Schutzgemeinschaft für allgemeine Kreditsicherung; English: Protection company for general creditworthiness) is a German private credit bureau supported by creditors. It has its headquarters in Wiesbaden, the capital of Hessen, Germany.

Schufa's purpose is to protect its clients from credit risks. It also offers protection from insolvency to borrowers.[clarification needed]

Schufa has 479 million records on 66.2 million natural persons,[1] amounting to about three-quarters of the German population. Schufa processes more than 102.9 million credit checks each year. Of those, 1.5 million are self-checks by citizens. Schufa employs 752 people (as of 2010). In 2009 it took in 1.9 million Euros (about $2.5 million USD at the time) in revenue from ordinary activities and a total of nearly 108 million Euros (about $150 million USD at the time).[1]

Former finance senator Michael Freytag has been board chairman of Schufa Holding AG since 1 November 2010.[2] The chairman of the supervisory board is Alexander Boldyreff.[3]

History[edit]

At the beginning of the 20th century, the Berlin city electric company (BEWAG) offered household appliances for sale on installment plans. At the time, the financing was compared with electric bills and only regularly paying customers would be supplied with appliances.[4] This started a system for assessing payment behavior.

With the experience they gained from BEWAG, Walter and Kurt Meyer, along with Robert Kauffmann established the Schutzgemeinschaft für Absatzfinanzierung (English: Protection society for sales financing) in 1927. Soon after, 13 more regional credit bureaus were formed in Germany. In 1952, the 13 West German credit bureaus were merged into Bundes-Schufa e. V.

Bundes-Schufa e. V. changed its name in 2000 to Schufa Holding AG and in 2002 acquired the shares of the 8 regional credit bureaus. The board of Schufa Holding AG is made up of three members, and the supervisory board has 9 members, 3 of which are Schufa employees.

Data Protection[edit]

In the 1970s, Schufa migrated to electronic records, which then fell under the German Federal Data Protection Act when it came into force in 1979.

On a case brought by the Berlin consumer protection society (Verbraucherschutzverein), the Federal Court of Justice of Germany gave the so-called "Schufa decision", ruling that personal data could not be given to Schufa without the customer's consent.[5] Transferring data to Schufa based solely on a blanket statement of consent without a weighing of interests is also prohibited.(Oberlandesgericht Düsseldorf, 10. Zivilsenat, Urteil vom 14. Dezember 2006, AZ. I-10 U 69/06 [6]).

Concerns and Criticisms[edit]

Data protection[edit]

Responding to Schufa’s expansion into new areas of business such as the housing and insurance sectors, as well as debt collection, the German Data Protection Office and several regional Data Protection Officers issued a joint press statement on 15 May 2003 in which they warned against the risk that Schufa was evolving into a privately controlled Central Database. According to the joint press statement, each additional data source was moving ever closer “to a detailed Personality Profile of the individuals affected”[7] This would make a reality of the “transparent citizen”[8]

Wrong data[edit]

In 2009 the German Ministry for Consumer Protection (Bundesverbraucherschutzministerium) undertook a study of the error rates of various credit bureaus, and identified a very high error rate at Schufa.[9][10]

The German Consumers’ Association had already conducted an investigation in 2003 which concluded that many items (69%) of Schufa data were incomplete, out of date, or wrong.[11] More recently, in 2010 the organisation checked a new sample and concluded that 1% of the data held by Schufa were wrong, 8% were out of date and 28% were incomplete.[12] [13] The Schufa business model is clearly based on a so-called “reciprocity principle” whereby the company’s business partners are contractually required to report data updates.[14]

References[edit]

  • Logemann, Jan (2012). The Development of Consumer Credit in Global Perspective: Business, Regulation, and Culture. Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 9781137062079. 
  • Rule, James .B.; Greenleaf, G.W. (2010). Global Privacy Protection: The First Generation. Edward Elgar. pp. 82, 90–91. ISBN 9781848445123. 
  • Jentzsch, Nicola (2006). The Economics and Regulation of Financial Privacy: An International Comparison of Credit Reporting Systems. Physica. ISBN 9783790817386. 
  • Hoene, Eberhard James .B.; Greenleaf, G.W. (1971). Präventiver Kreditschutz und Zwangsvollstreckung durch Private (in German). Duncker & Humblot. ISBN 9783428424986.