If you just moved to Berlin and set up a bank account, the word SCHUFA may have caused some confusion. The next emotion that followed was probably perplexion (or relief) when this mystery organisation approved your details and gave the bank the green light to open an account in your name.
What is SCHUFA?
SCHUFA is the General Credit Protection Association in Germany (Schutzgemeinschaft für allgemeine Kreditsicherung) and was originally set up in 1927 as the Berliner städtische Elektrizitäts-Aktiengesellschaft, otherwise known as the Berlin Municipal Electricity Company.
Aswell as providing electricity to homeowners the company also offered a loan system for electrical equipment such as vacuum cleaners and refrigerators. The rental fee was collected on a monthly basis and slowly began to serve as proof of credit repayments.
The Berlin Municipal Electricity Company began to create records of customers who paid installments on time. The success of this idea led to the founding of SCHUFA.
1927 to 2014
SCHUFA has expanded greatly since 1927 and it is now a private nationwide database for credit repayments. SCHUFA also deals with decision management, information management and scoring systems.
It has over 682 million records on file from over 66,3 million people and 4,2 million businesses.
What does SCHUFA check?
SCHUFA allows creditors to check the database to see if you are economically active and trustworthy before offering you a loan or an account. After a successful check on Schufa, banks can opt to offer customers giro credit, cash loans or an account. This can be completed within minutes at a bank counter.
…But I don’t remember registering with SCHUFA
Once you have completed the Anmelden process a SCHUFA account is automatically created on your behalf. It is activated as soon as you open your first standing order or bank account. It is used to track how well you pay your bills.
This record is kept for a long period of time so if you leave Germany without paying bills and decide to return years later, there will be a details of any outstanding records.
What information does Schufa store?
SCHUFA stores records pertaining to current accounts, credit cards, mobile phone contracts, loans and leasing contracts.
Schufa users are entitled to a free print out of their details once a year. You can not access your information online for free yet, instead you need to print out this form and send it to SCHUFA. The form is available in German, English and Turkish.
It’s important to remember not to tick the Bestellung Bonitätsauskunft box as if you do you will need to pay €24.95.
You will also need to provide a photocopy of your ID and the Meldebescheinigung that you recieved from the Bürgeramt. All details need to be legible.
If snail mail is not for you, can view your personal data on meineschufa.de but to gain basic access to your records there is a registration fee of €18,50.
Featured image: Hand putting check mark with green marker on excellent credit score evaluation form via Shutterstock. Copyright: Ivelin Radkov