SCHUFA (Schutzgemeinschaft für allgemeine Kreditsicherung)

This association is just as much hated as well it is loved. It depends on who is thinking of this most prominent agency for credit history and creditworthiness.

The SCHUFA (Schutzgemeinschaft für allgemeine Kreditsicherung, Protective Community for Security for General Loans) is a company that is funded by companies granting loans (in one way or the other) and fees for its services for those who need credit information. Its goal is to inform its contractual partners (banks, insurance companies, mail-order businesses, leasing companies, department stores, telecommunication firms, big real-estate companies, etc.) on the creditworthiness of a potential client in order to prevent non-payment of loans. This article introduces this beloved and equally hated organisation to you and shows you how to react when a listing is wrong.

Whoever has a negative listing with SCHUFA will hardly be able to close a contract unless they're putting the money up front. In some cases, it can happen that the SCHUFA is informed beyond the statutorily allowed requirements. When Germans talk about having a bad listing they typically say "Ich habe einen Eintrag bei der SCHUFA."

SCHUFA is an intellegence database that is subject to the strict rules of data protection of the Bundesdatenschutzgesetz (BDSG). When a data transmission has occurred illegally the person affected has the right to countermand the transmission, delete the data and maybe receive damages.

When do you get a SCHUFA listing?

The SCHUFA receives the data from its contract partners or from the debtors lists at the county courts. These debtors lists are publicly available and contain the names of persons who had to declare their income and assets under an affidavit (eine eidesstattliche Versicherung abgegeben haben). This will happen after an unsuccessful execution of debt collection.

Generally, the permission of the person affected is required, and is typically given when closing a contract and very often hidden in the STC. Typical situations are when closing a contract for a cell phone, loan contract or when opening a bank account. They have a so called SCHUFA clause ("SCHUFA Klausel"). What can you do about it, when signing a contract? Nothing! Nothing what so ever. They cannot, of course, force you to accept the SCHUFA stipulation but you either accept this clause or you will not get the contract at all. A permission is not needed when the information is obtained from publicly available databases, like the debtors lists.

Which information is stored at the SCHUFA?

SCHUFA saves all personal data (first and last name, date of birth, residential address), details on bank accounts, cell phone accounts, credit cards, leasing contracts, personal guarantees, etc.

Further the so called "soft details" are stored. These are typically disturbances in fulfilling a contract due to default or termination, when credit card has been levied, a bank account cancelled. All such is stored in the SCHUFA file.

The file also includes "hard negative facts" that report on measures of execution (after an incontestable judgment, like an affidavit or a warrant of arrest to force the affidavit). Also the opening of bankruptcy proceedings and the denial of such proceedings due to the lack of assets will be typical contents added.

Hint:

When you want to know what intelligence they have stored on you personally, you can apply for a disclosure of one's personal and financial data for the current cost of € 7.80. When you need to regularly check their intelligence on you, there is also the possibility for an online disclosure of one's personal and financial data.

Illegal SCHUFA Listings

For debtors that have been incontestably judged to pay and the claim is in execution, there is virtually no chance anymore to save any credibility whatsoever - hard negative facts.

However, it happens in (too) many cases that even though no case is pending in court, and the customer has rights not to pay, companies still report such "soft details" to SCHUFA - often rashly or legally incorrect by flatly basing it on the "SCHUFA clause".

A typical example: you have closed a contract with a telephone provider for a flat rate, which was cancelled due to alleged default payment. Already, before the cancellation, you protested in writing and argued that you could not use your line due to technical flaws over a longer period. The provider alleges that the technical flaws are not in the line but are your fault. After you have not paid even after just two reminders, a collection agency will be hired and the event reported to the SCHUFA.

Your rights: In such cases, you have the possibility to fight and demand damages.

The OLG Düsseldorf (judgment of December 14, 12 2006, re I-10 U 69/06), decided that the §16 BDSG. Federal Data Protection Act does not permit forwarding customer's details solely based on an agreement in the small print of a contract without weighing both the company's and the customer's interest.

The court demurred if a data transmission is even permissible before an incontestable clarification of the claim in so far as the customer does not bring evidently unfounded complaints against the claim and the general circumstances do not hint at a general reluctance or incapability to pay.

Any case, the reporting company must weigh the interests of the credit institutions which deserve protection and the negative consequences of a listing for the customer. Whenever such remains undone, the data transmission is illegal because infringes data protection law.

A transmission not covered by BDSG constitutes an infringement of the general right of privacy. This infringement constitutes the claim for damages as follows:

  • Against the company for revocation of the data reported to the SCHUFA,
  • Against the SCHUFA for deletion of the data after revocation.

This is best to be done by sending a registered letter to the company or any other means that proves receipt of the letter. Be sure that you have the delivery report in your files.

When this is unsuccessful, a lawyer will gladly help you. Check out the business directory for a lawyer in your vicinity!

Remark:

What can do about a listing with bad contents that is legal? Sit down and cry in shame that you are a bad debtor.