GUS plc, the retail and business services group, today announces that Experian will introduce a revised charging structure on credit reporting services to recover costs associated with implementing provisions of the federal Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (FACT Act).

The FACT Act was signed into law in December 2003, permanently extending the national standards for consumer credit reporting in the US, thereby benefiting the financial services industry as a whole. The Act also requires national credit reporting agencies to provide consumers, on request from a centralised source, one free credit report annually.

To recover FACT Act compliance costs, Experian will apply an 8% cost recovery charge to the total online credit services revenue for each Experian business client, subject to a minimum of 8 cents per transaction. Experian will initiate this cost recovery on 1 October 2004, but will begin at rates reduced by 50% for the three months to 31 December 2004. The full cost recovery programme will become effective on 1 January 2005.

In addition, Experian’s charging structure will reward clients if they improve the quality of the data provided to Experian’s database. This will be done by giving discounts on the cost recovery charge to those clients supplying data who achieve targeted improvements in consumer dispute rates and the overall quality of the data.

Don Robert, Chief Executive Officer of Experian North America, commented:
“We believe that our approach fairly distributes the cost burden for providing free credit reports across the financial services industry. We have also taken the opportunity to reward clients who improve data quality. This will help to enhance credit decisions, making consumer credit more affordable and accessible.”

Jim Allen, Senior Vice President, Consumer Risk Solutions, Bank of America added:
“When Congress passed the FACT Act, there was a recognition that new burdens and costs would be placed not only on credit bureaux, but also on the consumer credit industry as a whole. Experian’s proposal appears to be an innovative way to improve also the accuracy of credit data, which was one of Congress’ fundamental objectives.”

Enquiries:

GUS
David Tyler Finance Director 020 7495 0070
Fay Dodds Director of Investor Relations  
 
Finsbury
Rupert Younger   020 7251 3801
Rollo Head    

GUS announcements are available on its website, www.gusplc.com.

Certain statements made in this announcement are forward-looking statements. Such statements are based on current expectations and are subject to a number of risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from any expected future results in forward-looking statements.

Notes to editors

About GUS

GUS is a retail and business services group. Its activities comprise general merchandise retailing through Argos Retail Group, information and customer relationship management services through Experian and luxury goods through a majority shareholding in Burberry Group plc.

About Experian

Experian is a global leader in providing information solutions to organisations and consumers. It helps organisations find, develop and manage profitable customer relationships by providing information, decision-making solutions and processing services. It empowers consumers to understand, manage and protect their personal information and assets. Experian works with more than 40,000 clients across diverse industries, including financial services, telecommunications, healthcare, insurance, retail and catalogue, automotive, manufacturing, leisure, utilities, property, e-commerce and government. Experian has headquarters in Nottingham, UK, and Costa Mesa, California. Its 13,000 people support clients in more than 60 countries. Annual sales exceed $2.3 billion.

FACT Act objectives

The financial services industry as a whole lobbied Congress for passage of the FACT Act in order to set national standards on critical issues. The new obligations follow two major themes:

  • Enhancing the accuracy of consumer reports, including the provision of a free annual disclosure to consumers upon request; and
  • Establishing systems and procedures to prevent identity theft and to assist victims of identity theft in restoring their credit histories.

Experian FACT Act compliance

The FACT Act requires the three nationwide credit reporting agencies, including Experian, to build, maintain and operate a central source through which consumers may obtain a free report from each agency with a single request. Federal Trade Commission rules require that the central source efficiently handle at least 300% of the volume of credit reports currently provided to consumers.

As a result, Experian is expanding computer systems and telecommunications infrastructure, and hiring and training the additional staff needed to handle the anticipated volume of calls. This free service will begin 1 December 2004, with a nine-month rollout beginning in the western states and moving east. One additional region will be added every three months.

Experian data quality programme

From 1 January 2005, Experian will provide incentives by reducing the cost recovery surcharge to clients that improve their data quality through a new Data Furnisher Quality Certification programme.

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