Doing your own credit file check can be vital in order for you to get back on the road to rebuilding your credit reputation. Once you have received your credit report either by post, or online, this is when you can see if all the information about your financial history is accurate, or if it needs updating.
Here are some things your credit file check should tell you -
Unpaid debts or errors will show up that could be affecting your credit score.
You can assess your likelihood of qualifying for financial products such as credit cards and loans, and hopefully find products at the most favourable rates.
What Lenders Look For In a Credit Reference File Check
Obviously lenders are looking to lend money to those people who are likely to repay. It goes without saying that one of their main criteria is you must be on the voters, or electoral roll. If not there should be a good reason why (such as your only just having moved to your new address).
You should be aware that there is no such thing as a ‘blacklist’ of debtors. A would-be lender does a credit reference file check on you. It then takes into account a number of factors which make up its criteria about whether to extend credit to you, and if so, on what terms. It is obviously in your own interests, therefore, to make sure that what you read in your credit file is accurate.
Your credit file check will show what the credit reference agency files contain:
* Information about the electoral roll, which is actually public information anyway. Who lives at your address is recorded.
* County Court Judgements, Bankruptcies and other forms of insolvency will be listed.
* Records of whom else has made a search on your file when applying for credit. Others you may be linked to in a financial sense.
* If you have committed fraud then fraud data will be shown.
* Account data. This is where organisations compile details of all your payments and transactions on credit cards, store cards, loans, mortgages, bank accounts, mobile phone contracts.
* You will also be able to see your available credit, all debts, any repayments, they will include the amount you repay, and if you use credit card cash advances.
* Details of house repossessions.
If you want to go for ‘credit monitoring’ it comes at a price, around £5 to £8 a month. One of the features with the monitoring service is you can see your credit file online at any time. You will also be notified of any changes, or see if anyone else has carried out a credit file check on you, sometimes every 24 hours, other times it might be weekly depending on the level of service you have opted for.
What Your Credit Reference File Check Should Tell You
Now you have had chance to run through your credit reference file you need to check every entry very carefully.
When you do your credit reference file check look through your present and past address details. The last thing you need is to be judged on someone else’s credit history. Nor do you want your finances to be incorrectly linked with someone else’s. Any currently active accounts are of particular importance. If they’re still open, even if you haven’t used them for years, it can cause problems.
Check to see if you are showing as not having paid any payments you know you have, or have any debts outstanding, or even CCJs that have been paid but are not showing as having been cleared.
It does not matter how minor it is, if you spot something that is inaccurate it is down to you to help yourself to rebuild your credit. The Data Protection Act 1998 gives you the right to have information on your credit file corrected or removed if it’s wrong.
Avoid using commercial credit repair companies who might offer to remove information from your file to clean it. They can’t do anything you can’t for yourself. No one can legally remove accurate and timely negative information from a credit report.
If You Spot an Error on Your Credit Report
When doing your credit file check if you disagree with anything on your file, simply write to the agency and request it’s changed. This can sometimes be done online itself. Assuming the credit reference agency agrees it should quickly change the file. If there is a problem they may ask you to discuss the matter with the company that originally filed the data. I like this US government website which explains why you are most likely going to be wasting your money employing a credit repair company. And a sample letter is shown which can be used for sending to a credit reference agency if you disagree with anything they have on your credit file. Just adapt the letter to your own circumstances.
If, though, the credit reference agency refuses to correct any mistakes you are entitled to add your own comments, called “notice of correction.”
There is no need to be disagreeable, or insulting, simply put down concisely what you feel the amendment should be, and why. And if you feel that you are getting nowhere you do have the option to contact the Information Commissioner to lodge a complaint. Explain that you have carried out your own credit file check and give precise, concise details about what you disagree with, and what, if any, the response of the credit file reference agency has been. The ICO website also lists the 3 main credit reference agencies’ sites, along with addresses and phone numbers.