What is this project all about?
Germany's largest credit score company, SCHUFA, has immense power over people's lives. A low SCHUFA score can leave you empty-handed - without an apartment, credit card, home loan and much more. But what if your SCHUFA score is low because there are mistakes in your credit history or your personal details are outdated? What if the score is calculated by a mathematical model that is biased?
The problem is, no one knows how accurate SCHUFA's data is and how the private company computes its credit ratings. OpenSCHUFA wants to change this. By analyzing thousands of donated credit scores, along with additional data provided by donors like you, we want to make the calculations of this private company more transparent.
To do this, we need to raise 50,000 € and collect as many SCHUFA records as possible. We're accepting donations of 5 € upwards. You can apply for a free copy of your SCHUFA record at selbstauskunft.net (in German). It would be great if you could donate your money AND your credit record, but if you just want to donate one or the other, that's fine, too.
The more records we receive, and the more details such as age, gender and residential area we collect, the more significant our findings will be. We need your help because no one else - neither politicians, nor regulatory authorities and certainly not SCHUFA - wants to shed light on how SCHUFA scores are worked out.
SCHUFA holds records on nearly 70 million people living in Germany. According to SCHUFA, nearly one in ten of these records has at least one negative entry.
SCHUFA gets its data from some 9,000 partners, such as banks and telecommunication companies. Incredibly, SCHUFA doesn't believe it has a responsibility to check the accuracy of the data it receives from its partners. In addition, the algorithm used by SCHUFA to calculate credit scores is protected as a trade secret so outside of the company, no one knows how the algorithm works or whether there are errors or injustices built into the model. This is why we started the OpenSCHUFA project.
What is the project goal and who is the project for?
We need your help to get the word out and encourage others to donate their SCHUFA records. That's easy to do, and doesn't cost you anything.
We want to hear about your experiences with SCHUFA. We would also like tenants' associations, housing services and consumer protection agencies to get in touch with their stories.
You can contact us at: [email protected]
With your support, we want to achieve the following goals:
- Trigger debate. We want society to engage in a continuing discussion about the impact of credit scoring.
- Encourage oversight. We want to advocate for regular oversight by independent civic institutions who conduct detailed audits of credit rating agencies.
- Promote accountability. We want SCHUFA and similar agencies to be more transparent and open about how they arrive at their credit scores and the assumptions the score is based upon.
Why would you support this project?
The SCHUFA score attempts to gather creditworthiness of people in a few numbers. These numbers are calculated automatically and they constitute the basis of crucial decisions. Therefore it is important to get clearer understanding of the scoring process.
How will we use the money if the project is successfully funded?
OpenSCHUFA will use your money to finance various aspects of the project, including developing software to collect and collate the information contained in SCHUFA's credit records, pay data analysts and publish our findings.
Break-down of funding needs:
22.000 € to develop the software (open source);
11.000 € for data analysis and publications;;
6.000 € for project management and public relations;
6.000 € (approximately) VAT for externally commissioned consultants;
5.000 € in banking fees and crowdfunding expenses.
We will publish the software under an open source license so that it can be used and further developed for similar transparency projects. The software will make it as easy as possible to donate SCHUFA records by allowing a scan or photo taken with a mobile phone to be uploaded. The software will use OCR (optical character recognition) to convert the images into data. We will also ask those donating their credit records for additional information such as age, gender, country of birth, income and postcode, etc. Developing the software includes creating a project website and a database.
Who are the people behind the project?
OpenSCHUFA is run by the Open Knowledge Foundation Germany and AlgorithmWatch.
Open Knowledge Foundation Germany is a non-profit organization advocating for open knowledge, open data, transparency and civil participation.
AlgorithmWatch is a German non-profit organization that evaluates and sheds light on algorithmic and automatization processes with social relevance.
Zum Ablauf: Bei selbstauskunft.net fordert Ihr kostenfrei Eure SCHUFA-Auskunft an. Sie kommt nach 4-6 Wochen per Brief.
Nach Crowdfunding-Erfolg entwickeln wir eine Datenspende-Plattform. Ab Mai können Scans/Fotos der Haupttabelle der SCHUFA-Auskunft & freiwillige Angaben zu Alter, Geschlecht, PLZ usw. an uns übermittelt werden.
Erste Analysen der Daten gibt's ab Juni. Ob wir anonymisierte Datensätze veröffentlichen können, müssen wir noch klären.