Your Credit Report, A Quick Guide

If you are being denied credit, a secured loan or credit card for instance, it could all be down to something as simple as a mistake on your credit report.

How can this happen - and, more importantly, what can you do about it?

The first thing to understand is that credit reference agencies, the people that provide lenders with your credit report, are dealing with billions of pieces of data every year. So the chances are there may well be inaccuracies in the information they hold about you.

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Such inaccuracies can have a negative affect on your credit rating. Therefore, it is a good idea to make sure that your credit rating is an accurate representation of you, your past and current spending habits.

To do this you need to get in contact with the three main credit reference agencies - Equifax, Experian and Callcredit. This can either be done online, or by post.

Although possibly the easier option of the two, getting copies of your credit report online can be costly, anything up to £70 for certain "online monitoring packages".

Therefore, it is probably more cost-effective to make use of your statutory right, which entitles you to get a copy of your credit report, by post, for just £2.

Make sure you get a copy from all three of the agencies, as an error on just one of the reports can cause problems. It is best to do this every 18 months or so, or every time you are denied credit.

Once you have a copy of your report you need to make sure you give it a thorough look, checking everything. Most importantly you need to make sure all of your past and current debts are listed correctly.

Your repayment history is something that lenders place a particular amount of weight on, so it is vital that this is as accurate as possible.

Any errors regarding your past or current address may result in your identity and thus credit history, being mistaken for someone else's.

If it turns out that there are any errors on your report than you should write to the appropriate agency and request that it be changed. If the agency is agreeable then the changes will usually be made quite quickly.

If the agency disagrees with your change request then you have the right to add what is known as a "notice of correction" to your report. This should be just a short, factual explanation of what exactly you consider incorrect on your report, and may help you get a better deal on any lines of credit.

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