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Telstra Now Insisting on a Credit Check - Privacy Issues

Telstra rang me recently and offered me a cheaper mobile plan. The catch was that I had to agree to a credit check because it was now a ‘new plan’. I objected on principle as I have been with Telstra for 35 years and have never defaulted on payment.

I also object for Privacy reasons. I took the time to review Telstra’s Privacy Policy, as well as the Policies of the three Credit Reporting Bodies that they use to do credit checks. Despite being assured that my information would never be sent overseas, their Policies say otherwise. For example, Telstra says, ‘…the people to whom we may disclose your credit information or credit eligibility information may be based outside Australia…’. The Policies of the Credit Reporting Bodies are also a revelation of where your information can go.

Telstra and the Credit Reporting Bodies can also use your information for marketing. Telstra’s Privacy Policy says, 'We may also disclose Your Information… ‘our dealers, our related entities or our business or commercial partners’.

So consider, Telstra can pass your information on to others here or overseas, such as the Credit Reporting Bodies, who can then pass it on to others here or overseas, who can then presumably pass it on to others…

So… my information could be available all around the world, including perhaps details of my direct debit bank account, and I get all junk emails. Just add them to the many emails I get from overseas asking for my help, offering me a business deal or telling me I have won yet another lottery.

I can opt-out of the marketing scenario but I have to do this personally with the Credit Reporting Body, assuming somehow that I know which it is that is ‘pre-screening’ me.

All this is apparently quite legal. So why is the default, that these organisations can do this unless I tell them no?

The default should be that the credit check (which should only be for new customers or defaulters) is between Telstra and the Credit Reporting Body, and that neither is able to pass on any information to any third party, unless it is for legal proceedings.

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Same happened to me when I asked for a cheaper plan. I’ve been with them 14yrs, direct debit, never a late payment. So why would they think i can’t afford a CHEAPER plan? Also an enormous amount of paperwork and mucking around. Now it makes sense - they’re harvesting personal data for sale. I was insulted and annoyed. I told them forget it, I’ll try another company. And i will, just as soon as they fix my landline. Should be any month now.

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The reasons that you state are why I refuse to deal with Telstra. They are overpriced and over bloated.
I can find cheaper hassle free plans elsewhere.

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I completely agree with you that a business should legally have to seek our permission to utilise our information. It is about time the government made amendments to the law and had this acted on. I am so tired of the consumer being ripped off or exploited by businesses. I think Choice should take this initiative up and really start to make some serious noise nationally about this.

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Hi Nerrel,
I couldn’t agree more. We hear so much about Privacy Policies and how they protect our privacy but the fact is, they simply don’t. And what irks me is that they are legally disseminating our information all over the place. And the chain effect is staggering.

How much, that is not legal, is also going out and how would I know before damage was done?

My credit card provider also can send my information overseas which is a real worry.

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Every Telco in Australia has similar policies and T&C’s. This means there is a market failure caused by oligopoly disparity of power. In democracies, market failure is fixed by legislative action. The Privacy Act on credit matters is relatively toothless and needs significant updating. It had a review some years ago but that review was a compromise designed to placate big companies and credit reporting bureaus. Write to the Treasurer and Prime Minister asking for the changes you desire.

It is not unreasonable to expect that credit information must not be used for marketing purposes without your express consent where the default is that you will not be marketed to unless you agree. Such consent should not be sought as part of the credit appraisal process so it must only be requested after you have been approved for credit. Your choice about whether you should receive marketing material is irrelevant to a credit determination but the credit provider might illegally use it to decline credit.

If credit is declined, all personal information relating to you must be deleted from their systems as they do not need your personal information. This prevents them having your personal details to market it to you.

In relation to your information being sent overseas, it is relatively easy to make the credit provider legally responsible for the actions of their contractors and impose hefty additional civil penalties on them for your information being wrongly used from overseas. If they choose to save money by going overseas, they must bear the risk of that cost-cutting measure biting them in the bum if their sub-contractor does the wrong thing. I would say the penalty is automatically increased ten-fold will be a sufficient deterrent to ensure they put in place compliance systems to control their sub-contractors.

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After 35 years too, I would have thought Telstra would have all the info on me they need!

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Bloody ridiculous! Always something to try and make a buck. And at our expense- privacy wise and financially!!!

Why is everyone so surprised about this. The insurance industry have been doing this for more than 40 years that I know of. !

Most calls you receive from people saying they are from Telstra are scammers. Please don’t trust them. It is much better to call Telstra yourself on the Telstra number and then you know who you are dealing with. Please do not give out your personal information on the phone to anyone saying they are from Telstra.

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Many of these calls are scammers and are not actually a staff person from Telstra.

Most of these calls are scammers and are not from Telstra…

Most of these callers are not actually from Telstra but are scammers. Please don’t give your details to anyone over the phone. Call Telstra yourself directly to be sure who you are dealing with. Check the number yourself and do not ring a number that a caller has provided to you. Be careful…

Hi Margy,
In forty years of insuring, I don’t ever remember being asked to agree to a credit check for taking out an insurance policy.

That’s not to say a credit check wasn’t done, however, without my permission!

Just another example of process over common sense. Privacy only appears to work one way, which is when YOU want to know something about THEM. When it’s the other way around, it seems to be open slather. I agree with you that the default position should be as you have described.

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Scammers. Probably not Telstra.

My call really was from Telstra. Speaking to a complaints manager at Telstra today, I was told that Telstra do a credit check every time you change or renew a plan or contract, and that this has been the case for a long time.

When I very pointedly asked, "Are you telling me that you have been doing credit checks on me without my permission?’, he gave me a very long winded explanation of why they do it. And when I asked the question again, explaining the answer was yes or no, I was told the credit check was computer generated and it is done automatically.

I don’t remember being asked to give permission on any of the occasions I have renewed contracts or changed plans, until this last time.

Is anyone aware of this position? I’m curious to know if people are all agreeing to this check or whether they are unaware of it being done.

I agree completely with sue2. There is no way you can trust a caller that they are from where they say they are. I dont respond to ANY of these phone calls.

Margy,
I worked in the insurance industry and never once heard of an insurance company asking for a credit check. Why would they, they get paid up front before cover commences. Unless the policyholder is taking out a loan to pay for the insurance premiums and then it is the finance company doing it, not the insurer.

Our call really was from Telstra too. I complained bitterly that I had been a customer for more than 25 years and had always paid every bill on time and that I am a Business customer as well. It made no difference. If I wanted to change the phone plan then I had to agree to a credit check. I advised the poor customer service person that he had better send my bitter resentments to his manager otherwise he is taking my flack for nothing. He said he would. Who knows, but Telstra doesn’t care. If you want their business you have to follow their rules. Despite their arrogance, I would not switch to another telecommunications carrier.