JPS, Flow to exchange customer information with credit bureaus
Power distributor Jamaica Public Service Company (JPS) and telecommunications provider Flow Jamaica have now put in place arrangements to provide credit information on their customers to approved credit bureaus.
In separate notices to the public, JPS said it would start submitting information effective November 21, 2016, while Flow indicated that it will require customers requesting or amending services to provide specific identification documents, starting January 3, 2017.
The utility firms said the move is consistent with the provisions of the Credit Reporting Act of 2010, which allows for the sharing of information between specified bodies and licensed credit bureaus.
JPS, which will be submitting credit information to CRIF NM Credit Assure Limited, pointed out that the Act also ensures that credit reporting is done through reasonable procedures that meet the needs of commerce for credit information while being fair to the customer.
That will apply to most residential and commercial customers, JPS said in emailed responses to Gleaner Business queries. However, customers who have special payment arrangements with the company will not be included.
JPS said submission of the information to the credit bureau is not a deviation from householders and or firms' contacts with the company and that there are no plans at this time to vary the existing standard terms and conditions of service.
EXERCISING A RIGHT
Asked if that was being adopted as a strategy to force customers to pay on time, the light and power supplier said JPS is merely exercising a right conferred on it by the minister of finance, which designated the company a credit information provider under the Act.
"However, we do hope that this will motivate customers of JPS to remain current with their payments," said the company, which the Office of Utilities Regulation has authorized to charge a late fee for customers who do not pay on time, and alternatively reward those who pay early or in a timely manner.
Queried about what redress will be available to customers in the event of errors on the part of JPS, the company said customers can query a credit report.
"In such cases, the credit bureau can call upon us to confirm the accuracy of the data provided," it said, adding that "as a credit information provider, we are legally obligated to provide accurate information."
As to whether failure to pay JPS bills on time give a true indication of how its customers handle credit overall, the electricity distributor said, "Our understanding is that the credit status of an individual will be determined based on the information collected from a number of credit information providers, as opposed to any one provider."
JPS said it intends to provide credit information to the bureau on a monthly basis.
Flow said that effective January 3, 2017, Cable and Wireless, Columbus Communi-cations Jamaica Limited and Dekal Wireless, operators of Flow and C&W Business, will require persons requesting or amending services with any of those companies to present their Taxpayer Registration Number or driver's licence, in addition to a national identification or passport as required for the purpose of providing credit information under the Credit Reporting Act.
The company said it will also be submitting information to CRIF NM Assure Limited. Such credit information will apply to all residential and business transactions, including the purchase of handsets, SIM cards, internet, cable packages, telephony and mobile connectivity, Flow said via email.
For credit-reporting purposes, Flow said it will only be reporting on subscribers who effectively have a credit account with the company, that is, those who have a monthly recurring charge.
"Those customers who come in to conduct a one-time purchase or the purchase of accessories, full price purchases of modems and set top boxes will not be subjected to a credit check but will be required to present valid identification," it said.
Prepaid customers will not be included. However, they were always required to provide identification if they purchased a SIM card to validate their identity.
In addition to established financial institutions, JPS and other utility providers were selected by the Ministry of Finance as credit-information providers.