Legislation is needed to protect personal credit information, including the names and addresses of borrowers and their outstanding debts, according to a government panel report released Friday.

But the panel also recommended that such information be shared extensively among credit research organizations to help prevent personal bankruptcies resulting from excessive borrowing.

Drawn up by the joint expert panel of the Finance Ministry and the Ministry of International Trade and Industry, the report is intended to ignite nationwide debate on how to deal with personal credit information.

The two ministries will prepare possible legislation in line with similar systems in other countries, Finance Ministry officials said. The report was compiled because leakage of personal credit data from financial institutions has become a social problem. Selling private information for marketing purposes, one of the reasons people often receive a flood of direct mail from firms with which they are unfamiliar, is not legally prohibited.

The report proposes that criminal laws be applied to abuses of personal data. It also says individuals should be given legal rights to demand disclosure of their personal data held by credit organizations and to file complaints if such data are abused.

To promote data-sharing, various credit research organizations — including those for banks, nonbank lenders and credit card firms — should have more access to the personal credit data they hold, according to the report.

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