Credit and collection


Credit and collection

Have you ever been
refused a credit card contract or only been able to place orders on the
internet if you agree to pay the bill before delivery? Then it is possible that
a credit agency or another body has registered data on your payment history and
disclosed it to third parties.

Overview of bodies that process data on payment history :

Credit agencies

Credit agencies collect information from various sources about the economic activity, creditworthiness and solvency (credit rating) of companies and private individuals. They store the information in data collections and pass it on to requesting agencies and private individuals in writing, by telephone or in an automated procedure for a fee. Anyone who requests credit information must have a legitimate interest in receiving it. 

Further information on data processing by credit agencies: 

Switzerland's Central Office for Credit Information (ZEK)

The Central Office for Credit Information (Zentralstelle für Kreditinformationen, ZEK) is not a credit agency in the sense mentioned above. It is a private association that maintains a database on prospective borrowers, leasing and credit card customers, as well as on the debts and creditworthiness of borrowers, leasing customers and credit cardholders. Companies that may be admitted as members of the association include those which commercially finance credit sales, grant loans, conclude rental and leasing contracts for movable goods or issue credit cards and payment cards. Typical ZEK members are banks. 

The ZEK database only contains data that ZEK members have registered. Unlike a credit agency, only ZEK members are entitled to use the data, i.e. they can access it online. In its regulations, the ZEK has defined exactly which data its members may or must process in the ZEK database. 

Switzerland's Consumer Credit Information Office (IKO)

The Consumer Credit Information Office (Informationsstelle für Kreditinformationen, IKO) is an institution established by commercial lenders as required by Article 23 of the Consumer Credit Act (CCA; SR 221.214.1). The IKO processes data relating to persons who have applied for consumer credit. Leasing agreements, credit and customer cards and overdraft facilities may also fall under the Consumer Credit Act (Art. 1 para. 2 CCA). 

Before consumer credit is granted to a private individual, the individual's creditworthiness must be checked and a request must be sent to the IKO for this purpose (see Art. 28 para. 3 let. c CCA). The purpose of the creditworthiness check is to prevent the consumer from becoming over-indebted (Art. 22 CCA). The creditor is obliged to report the consumer credit it has granted to the IKO (Art. 25 CCA). 

Access to the data collected by the IKO is essentially only granted to creditors operating on a commercial basis, and only in cases where they require the data to fulfil their obligations under the Consumer Credit Act (Art. 24 CCA). The Consumer Credit Act and the associated ordinance specify exactly what information about borrowers may be processed. 

Collection agency

Collection agencies may also have information about your payment habits. Collection agencies are private companies that collect outstanding debts. Collection agencies may pass on information from their business activities to credit agencies. Credit inquiry and debt collection services are often offered by the same company. 

Debt enforcement register

The debt enforcement register is a public register of private legal transactions. This register and, in particular, access to it and the rights of the persons whose data is processed (data subjects) are primarily governed by the Federal Debt Enforcement and Bankruptcy Act (DEBA; SR 281.1) and not by the FADP (cf. Art. 2 para. 4 FADP). 

The debt enforcement register contains data on private persons and companies relating to proceedings for enforcing debts and for bankruptcy. If a person has a legitimate interest, he or she may inspect the register and obtain an extract from it (Art. 8a DEBA). This is the case, for example, if someone wants to conclude a contract with you, e.g. for an apartment, and therefore wants to check your creditworthiness. An extract from the debt enforcement register can be obtained for a fee from the relevant debt enforcement office. The right of third parties (e.g. prospective landlords) to see an entry in the register expires five years after the conclusion of the debt enforcement or bankruptcy proceedings. 

Cross-border transfer of personal data

The cross-border transfer of personal data is subject to special rules. The following must be considered before data is transferred to other countries.

Advertising & marketing

Mail, e-mail, telephone: Depending on the type of contact, different rules apply for data protection-compliant advertising.

Outsourcing of data processing

You are still responsible for data protection, even if you outsource the processing of personal data.

Video surveillance in the workplace

Video surveillance systems can affect the well-being, mental health and productivity of employees, and should therefore only be considered when less invasive measures are genuinely unsuitable.

Questions on data protection

Take a look at our FAQ or call our hotline.

Legal basis Data protection

The current legal basis.

Last modification 24.04.2023

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