When you apply for credit, the success of your application is based on a combination of your personal information and a credit report provided by at least one of the following credit reference agencies:
The credit reference agencies hold information that indicates how you run your finances, including any defaulted or late payments, county court judgments (CCJs) and bankruptcies.
While CCJs and bankruptcies adversely affect your credit score for six years, the effect of defaults lessens over time, with good financial practice helping to cancel them out.
It’s advisable to check your credit files every 18 months or so as this ensures any mistakes or fraudulent applications are identified and amended. You can either obtain these by post or via the companies’ websites.
To access your full reports online, you may be required to sign up for a chargeable monthly access scheme. However, these aren’t necessary as the credit agencies frequently offer a free trial that allows you to sign up, obtain your credit report and then cancel before any money is debited from your account.
If this sounds like too much effort (or you’re one of the many who often forget to cancel subscriptions after a free trial), you can purchase a summarised report comprising data from all three agencies from CheckMyFile.com. This option comes at a cost but is likely cheaper than any of the monthly payment plans offered by credit reference agencies.
Once you’ve obtained your credit report, you should carefully check that all your details are listed correctly. Pay especially attention to your current and past debts, repayment history and personal details, including past and present postal addresses (as these too impact your credit score).
If you notice any errors, contact the agency directly and ask for an amendment to be made, as any mistakes could impact your ability to get credit.
In most instances, the credit reference agency will resolve this, but you may be referred back to the lender in question if there’s a dispute.
If they refuse to amend your file, you have the right to add a notice of correction explaining the error to future credit providers.
By regularly checking your credit file, you’ll be able to identify any mistakes or fraudulent applications made in your name, protecting your financial integrity so that you won’t be unduly turned down for credit when you need it.