Sweden tightens rules on web credit checks

Swedes will no longer be able to snoop through each other's finances anonymously after a popular web site agreed to tighten the rules on its credit information services, an Associated Press report, quoting officials, said.

The Associated Press report said Ratsit.se, which allows users to browse the income and other personal information of all Swedes free of charge, will impose certain restrictions this month after pressure from the national tax authority.

The site has become hugely popular after it started in November, with some 610,000 registered users and an average of 50,000 online credit checks a day, the report said.

Although personal income is public information in Sweden, the National Tax Board expressed concern that the online credit checks were being abused by Swedes anonymously perusing the income of their friends, neighbors or co-workers, the Associated Press report said.

Starting June 11, people whose information has been viewed online will be notified by mail of who checked their details. Ratsit will also remove the income information from its free service, but it will still be available for a fee, the report said.

Ratsit and other credit information companies voluntarily imposed the new rules after the tax authority threatened to stop supplying the information electronically, the report said.

The Associated Press report further quoted company CEO Anders Johansson as saying that Ratsit will still allow companies to perform legitimate credit checks anonymously for commercial reasons.

Johansson said the company was expecting credit information requests would drop 50% after the new rules kick in, but until then traffic is expected to spike, the report said.

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