1 October 2019 (London, UK) – Not-for-profit initiative, the Vulnerability Registration Service, today announces a partnership with Synectics Solutions, one of the UK’s leading data management and software providers, with the aim of helping to protect vulnerable consumers from financial harm.
The issue of consumer vulnerability is one that is being treated with increasing prominence by the financial services sector, partly as a result of the Financial Conduct Authority’s (FCA) focus on the subject in recent years. There is recognition that there needs to be greater consistency across the sector in dealing with vulnerability, and the Synectics and VRS partnership will help to achieve this.
The VRS and Synectics share the view that all organisations have a social, moral and regulatory responsibility to identify vulnerable customers. Many businesses will have invested in systems which help them to deal with vulnerable consumers, but there has until now been no single point of reference to ensure all parties have the information they need without consumers repeating the same difficult conversations over and over again.
With this in mind, the VRS was set up to enable organisations to identify those registered on the VRS as vulnerable customers at the point of application or when deciding on customer engagement strategies. When organisations are aware of a vulnerable person’s circumstances, they are better able to treat them appropriately. The VRS provides businesses with the decision-agnostic platform they need to understand more about who they are dealing with at a given point in time, helping them to ensure that vulnerable consumers do not find themselves in financial hardship with which they may struggle to cope. The register is seeing increasing momentum across multiple sectors, such as consumer finance, energy, water, mobile phones, insurance services and local authorities.
James Brown, Finance Product Manager at Synectics said “Synectics looks forward to working closely with the VRS to support vulnerable consumers. Synectics is committed to protecting the best interests of this wide and diverse group, and the VRS will help to allow greater industry wide collaboration and agreement on various treatment strategies offered, which is key to achieving this.”
Helen Lord, Director of the VRS said “The partnership with Synectics is a very significant step in the progress of the VRS, and reflects the level of interest that we have seen in the register since its launch in September. We are delighted that Synectics has chosen to work with us and recognises the benefits that this initiative can bring to help businesses treat their customers fairly and compassionately. We urge other like-minded organisations to work with us to really help transform the quality of life and peace of mind of vulnerable customers”.
Notes to editors
About the Vulnerability Registration Service (‘VRS’)
The VRS is a not-for-profit company limited by guarantee and has been developed following constructive dialogue with industry and consumer stakeholders. The VRS has an Advisory Board of experts to help provide thought leadership whilst it continues to develop the service. The purpose of the VRS is to empower vulnerable consumers, allowing them either to self-exclude themselves from credit and financial promotions or to slow down the credit application process. It provides a single reference point for consumers and organisations participating in the register, enabling an individual’s vulnerability issues to be handled sensitively and professionally by credit providers. It does not claim to provide information on all credit users, but crucially helps lenders to identify the most vulnerable consumers, and meet their responsibilities towards this section of the population, a growing issue for the industry.
Frequently asked questions about the VRS
What is the Vulnerability Registration Service / VRS?
The VRS is the UK’s first centralised registration tool to help people experiencing vulnerability ensure that their circumstances are taken into account by lenders and other organisations with whom they interact.
Does it cost anything to register with the VRS?
No, registration with the VRS is free for vulnerable people. The VRS is a not-for-profit company limited by guarantee – it does not charge vulnerable people to use its service and it never will, and all revenues from business users are used to maintain and improve the service we provide.
How many consumers are there currently registered with the VRS?
The VRS is already approaching 10,000 consumers registered to its service. Given the relative speed with which this number of users have registered with the VRS, even before its public launch, we would expect participation to grow significantly over the coming months.
What information does the VRS record?
Typically, all that goes on the register is a name, address, date of birth and contact details. We don’t record the reasons behind a registration. The VRS operates via a simple flagging system: vulnerable users can opt either to be pre-declined for certain services, or request that the organisations they deal with contact them about their registration before making a decision that relates to them.
How do you establish consent from vulnerable people to be on the register?
Membership of the VRS is entirely voluntary – users sign up for an initial period of three months, after which time they can require us to remove their details if they feel their circumstances have sufficiently improved.
Where a vulnerable person may be unable to register themselves, for instance if they are incapacitated or suffering from dementia, they may be added to the VRS by someone with a legal right to represent them such as power of attorney.
When a user registers with the VRS, who has access to their data?
Only organisations signed up to the VRS with whom the registered user has a relationship will be able to see any information – including that the user is registered at all – and only then when there is a specific decision to be made relating to that user.
Once a user has their details removed from the VRS there will be no searchable trace that they were ever registered. The VRS is completely independent of the credit reference agencies and does not share any information with them.
Does being registered with the VRS affect your credit rating?
Being registered on the VRS should never affect your credit rating.
Is information stored on the VRS secure?
The VRS takes the security of user data extremely seriously and uses the equivalent security systems as are used in online banking.
For media enquiries please contact:
Fraser Schurer-Lewis, Acuitas Communications
+44 (0)7961 027 281 / +44 (0)20 3687 0869
Catriona Foyle, Acuitas Communications
+44 (0)7720 998 313 / +44 (0)20 3687 0868