Self-disclosures are useful for checking the accuracy of stored data

With the aid of a self disclosure request, citizens and consumers learn what data about them is stored by authorities and companies. The modern age allows for personal data to be entered in numerous databases. Because of the networks between companies, authorities and banks, many people find it difficult to trace the path of the stored data. For this reason, the Federal Data Protection Act provides the right of subject access to stored data (§§ 19, 34 BDSG). offers you information about your right to access the data stored about you.


Self disclosure is a fundamental right

The right of  self disclosure is a modern fundamental right and therefore, unlike other fundamental rights, not explicitly mentioned in Germany's Basic Law (Grundgesetz). The development of data processing could not have been anticipated at the time the Basic Law was enacted. As a special data protection right, the right of  self disclosure is incorporated in the right of "informational self-determination". This fundamental right is based on the jurisprudence of the German Constitutional Court (in particular the population census decision) and is therefore of statutory nature. In addition, Article 8 of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights is dedicated to the special protection of personal data. The German Federal Data Protection Act serves the concretisation of the protection of personal data. §§19 and 34 of the Federal Data Protection Act regulate the right of subject access. Therein, it treats data stored by public authorities and private companies differently. Everyone is entitled to access personal data about themselves that is stored in public and private databases. In addition to the data itself, authorities and companies must also provide information on the origin and circulation of the data. They must also disclose the purpose of the data storage. Based on the special data of security authorities, §19 of the Federal Data Protection Act limits the right of subject access in certain cases. Data of which the disclosure could jeopardise public safety or the interests of the state does not have to be included in a subject access request of authorities. In these cases, authorities are obligated to inform the applicant about the refusal of disclosure. The Federal Data Protection Act does not provide a similar limited right of subject access for private companies. Instead, the provisions of §34 BDSG on the right to information are based on public data files. Accordingly, persons are also entitled to access information about score values and the data used in the scoring.

Self disclosure request for your own credit review

For consumers, the subject access request is often of interest for data that a credit assessment was based on. Banks, companies and credit agencies do not only store personal information but also information about credit behaviour and payment history. In particular, the databases of some credit agencies contain comprehensive data on existing loans, mobile phone contracts or customer accounts with retailers. Furthermore, information relating to legal dunning procedures, consumer insolvency proceedings or the intervention of collection agencies may be stored as negative data. All of this data can influence the credit decisions of banks, leasing companies and other credit institutions. Further, retailers, mobile network operators, insurers and other potential contract partners obtain data from credit agencies prior to closing a contract. Therefore, affected persons have the right to learn about these enquiries by means of a subject access request. Credit agencies and banks use the existing data to determine scoring values. Scoring simplifies, standardises and accelerates credit and supply decisions. A subject access request must contain details about the established score values however, as a score value can influence the decision.

Subject access request free-of-charge once a year

The Federal Data Protection Act provides for credit agencies granting a free-of-charge  self disclosure request once a year. Applicants can submit the  self disclosure request in writing or in person, at many credit agencies, or it can be done online. The application typically needs to include surnames, first names and birth names, as well as other details. These include date of birth, current address and previous addresses of the last three to five years. Ony in the case of identity  being questioned, may the credit agency request the presentation of a copy of the identity document of the person concerned.

Submit a subject access request before applying for credit

It is sensible to submit a  self disclosure request, especially before applying for a loan. If you enquire about your data and scores stored in good time, you may be spared unpleasant surprises. You should check the data you receive with the subject access request because credit agencies have no influence on the accuracy of the information provided to them. This will allow you to have incorrect entries corrected or deleted and improve your credit rating before applying for a loan.