To what extent does Schufa have to provide information?

The plaintiff asserted a claim for information under data protection law against the defendant credit reference agency SCHUFA.

In the course of its activities, the defendant collects and stores personal data which may be relevant for the assessment of the creditworthiness of the persons concerned. In addition, it creates so-called score values, among other things also taking into account the data available with regard to the respective data subject. A score represents a probability value about the future behaviour of groups of persons, which is calculated on the basis of statistical-mathematical analysis procedures. The scores determined by the defendant are intended to indicate the probability with which the person concerned will fulfil his or her obligations in accordance with the contract. The defendant makes these scores available to its contractual partners to enable them to assess the creditworthiness of their customers.

After the financing of a car purchase by the plaintiff had initially failed due to incorrect information provided by the defendant, the plaintiff turned to the defendant. The defendant subsequently sent her a credit report as well as a "data overview in accordance with § 34 of the Federal Data Protection Act" on several occasions. The plaintiff is of the opinion that the information provided by the defendant does not meet the legal requirements.

The district court essentially dismissed the action. The plaintiff's appeal to the Regional Court was unsuccessful.

With her appeal, which was allowed by the Regional Court, the plaintiff continued to pursue her request to be provided with information regarding individual score values as to which characteristics play a role in the score calculation and how they are weighted. The VIth Civil Senate of the Federal Court of Justice, which is responsible for claims under the Federal Data Protection Act, ruled in favour of the plaintiff. The appeal was dismissed by the VI Civil Senate of the Federal Supreme Court, which is responsible for claims under the Federal Data Protection Act.

However, the defendant has to provide information about which personal, in particular credit-relevant data it has stored and included in the calculation of the probability values. The defendant provided this information to the plaintiff (partly only in the present proceedings). The plaintiff was provided with all personal data stored by the defendant. Furthermore, she was informed about the probability values transmitted to third parties in the last twelve months and the currently calculated probability values as well as the data used to calculate the probability values. The details were explained in a leaflet.

The court of appeal rightly denied the plaintiff's claim for information beyond this. The specific information on comparison groups claimed by the plaintiff is not one of the elements of the scoring procedure about which information must be provided pursuant to § 34.4 sentence 1 no. 4 BDSG. The same applies to the weighting of the characteristics included in the score. The right to information under Section 34 (4) BDSG is based on the legislative intention to protect trade secrets of the credit agencies, namely the so-called score formula, despite the creation of greater transparency in scoring procedures. The obligation to provide information is intended to enable the person concerned to recognise and react to the facts of life that have been included in the assessment. This does not require information on comparison groups and the weighting of individual elements. The legislative goal of a transparent procedure is achieved by the fact that it is evident to the person concerned which concrete circumstances have been used as a basis for the calculation of the probability value. This goal is achieved by the information provided to the applicant.


Judgment of the BGH of 28 January 2014 - VI ZR 156/13

Lower courts:

Gießen Local Court - Judgment of 11 October 2012 - 47 C 206/12

Gießen Regional Court - Judgment of 6 March 2013 - 1 S 301/12


Source: Press release of the BGH


Goldberg Attorneys at Law 2014

Attorney at Law Michael Ullrich, LL.M. (Information Law)

Specialist lawyer for information technology law