CCI Dismisses Allegations of Abuse of Dominance against Trans Union

On November 8, 2018, CCI dismissed allegations of abuse of dominance filed by Mr. M. Venugopal Reddy against credit information providing company – Trans Union CIBIL Limited (‘Trans Union’) and its director/chief executive officer, Mr. Satish Kumar Pillai.[1] The allegations were with respect to reducing the CIBIL score of Mr. Reddy (a credit score based on analysis of credit files to determine creditworthiness) and not updating Mr. Reddy’s CIBIL score despite Mr. Reddy having sent a legal notice dated June 1, 2018 (‘Legal Notice’) to Trans Union.

Mr. Reddy was denied credit approvals in the form of loans, credit cards etc., by banks and financial institutions on the basis of Trans Union’s Credit Report dated May 18, 2018 (‘Report’), which showed a low CIBIL score for Mr. Reddy. This prompted Mr. Reddy to send Trans Union the Legal Notice alleging that Trans Union: (i) had not reviewed Mr. Reddy’s score; (ii) built its scores on the basis of fake data; (iii) was not updating its data; and (iv) was breaching Mr. Reddy’s privacy by disclosing PAN number, passport number, voter ID number, ration card number etc., in the Report. Mr. Reddy also submitted that his Legal Notice detailing the allegations mentioned above was also not replied to by Trans Union.

While assessing the allegation of abuse of dominance, CCI identified the relevant market as the ‘market for the provision of services by credit information companies in India’. CCI was of a prima facie view that Trans Union enjoys a dominant position in the relevant market. It came to this conclusion because: (i) Trans Union has gained prominence over a period of time and has established itself as a key player in the relevant market; (ii) CIBIL scores are widely relied upon by credit institutions to determine credit worthiness of a borrower.

Trans Union is governed by the CIC Credit Information Companies (Regulation) Act, 2005 (‘CIC Act’). Keeping in mind that the CIC Act already provides safeguards for issues like breach of privacy and accuracy of data, CCI held that no competition concerns were established in the present case. On the allegation of building CIBIL scores on the basis of fake data, CCI noted that Trans Union is statutorily barred from modifying credit information unless it receives confirmation from the relevant credit institutions providing the information used to create the CIBIL score. Therefore, the allegation of reliance on fake data was also held to be untenable. CCI concluded that there is no prima facie case of contravention of Section 4 of the Act.

[1] Case No. 36 of 2018.

Published In:Inter Alia Special Edition Competition Law November 2018 [ English
Date: November 30, 2018