Credit ratings seem to be a mystery to most people, as many don’t know their rights, how lenders make their decisions, how credit scores are calculated and how they can be challenged and improved.
The contents of your personal credit report can have a bearing on whether or not you are given credit. Factors other than the information held on a credit report may contribute to a lending decision as well (such as the information you provide on your application form), but your credit report is important.
You have the right to view the information contained in your credit report to make sure it is accurate. If errors are found, you are entitled to apply to have them corrected. Having the ability to view and challenge your credit report is important, as; in addition to providing the basis for a lending decision, your credit rating may also affect the interest rate you are offered by lenders, which could lead to more costly borrowing.
Credit reports are compiled by credit reference agencies using information from two main sources:
1) The Public Record: e.g. electoral roll information, court judgments, individual voluntary arrangements and bankruptcies.
2) Information provided by lenders and financial institutions: e.g. credit accounts, credit applications and financial associations.
When you apply for a loan, the lender will typically contact a credit reference agency to check the information on your credit report, in order to help them calculate your potential creditworthiness and risk. These calculations are done by the lender and may vary between lenders. It is important to note that the credit reference agency does not offer any comment or advice and does not know how the information a lender has seen will affect the lending decision.
To view your personal credit information that lenders are currently basing their credit decisions on, apply online to any of the credit reference agency listed below:-
Equifax Credit File Advice Centre
PO Box 1140,
Bradford BD1 5US
Tel: 0844 335 0550
One Park Lane, Leeds
West Yorkshire LS3 1EP
Tel: 0870 060 1414
Are you on a credit blacklist? - The simple answer is no, you’re not. There is no such thing as a blacklist. Credit reference agencies only display factual information about people, most of which is provided by lenders.
They do not offer opinions about your creditworthiness (that is, whether you are likely repay credit). Companies make their lending decisions using credit scoring based on information held by credit reference agencies, additional information you may have provided, plus their own internal processes. The information credit reference agencies hold shows that most people are actually good payers and make repayments on time.
What is credit scoring? - Credit scoring is a technique used by companies to help them assess the risk involved in lending someone money – it involves building a score based upon the details provided by you on the application form and the information held on your credit report. It may be that the information you supplied on your application form meant that you did not fit the lender’s ‘customer profile’ and that the information held by a credit reference agency did not affect the decision. Different companies take different information into account and therefore your application may be accepted by one company but declined by another.
If you are declined credit the lender should tell you the main reason for this – whether their decision was based upon a credit score, information held on your credit file or on their own specific policy. If the decision was based upon your credit report, the lender should tell you the name and address of the credit reference agency they used.
Always check your credit report! - It always makes sense to obtain a copy of your credit report either before you make an application or if you are declined credit as a result of the information held by a credit reference agency. Your credit report will include all the information that any company you apply to may see and should help you to establish why your application to them was declined. It will not state the reason you have been declined because only the company you applied to will know this.
Do not make repeated applications for credit once you have been declined. Each application you make is likely to result in a search of your credit report. These searches will be registered and could affect future applications. Establish why your application was declined before making further applications.