Your credit report, also known as a credit file, is an important repository of information. It is routinely used by lenders to help decide whether to approve your application for a loan, credit card or mortgage. It may also help the potential lender determine the terms of your arrangement.
It is important to note that your credit report is not the definitive factor in whether you will be granted credit. Still, it is a useful indicator, and as a result, it is important to know exactly what might be in your credit report and exactly how you can access it.
Firstly, let’s be clear that not anyone can compile a credit report on you. In the UK, there are three registered credit reference agencies permitted to compile the relevant information and sell it to a potential lender for a fee. Most obviously, these include banks and building societies, but potential lenders might also include innocuous mail order companies and mobile phone companies who may also want reassurances that you will pay on time.
Credit reports can also be used for employment purposes when it comes to deciding on hiring or promotion. However, they cannot be used for this purpose without your prior, written permission.
So, what kind of information will be included in your credit report?
In a nutshell, it will list all details of when you have borrowed money, whether you repaid on time and any other relevant information which would indicate your reliability as a borrower.
Where can you access your credit report or see a sample report to know what to expect? You can sign up at one of the registered agencies, such as Experian, by clicking http://www.creditexpert.co.uk/credit-report.aspx . Regardless of where you go for your credit report, you can expect it to be broken down into the following main categories:
Typically, a credit report will start out with your basic profile information, including your name, date of birth, address, and even how long you have been at your current residency and where you lived previously. If you have any aliases (e.g., from marriage, divorce, or simply changing your name), they will be noted and accounted for in the report as well.
Expect it to include a list of all your credit accounts, when they were opened and their limits. This might not only include bank accounts but also catalogue and store credit. Of course, any instances in which you missed payments will be part of this information. Account details can be expected to stay on your credit report for six years after closing the account.
It is important to note that if you open a joint account, you are essentially creating a financial association. The other person who shares the account will be listed on your credit report as a financial associate. Lenders may follow-up on running a check on your financial associate, so keep this in mind.
The credit report will also include any information available in public records which reflect on your borrowing reliability, such as relevant County Court judgements, bankruptcy or repossession details. Standard details such as your address, date of birth and whether you are on the electoral role will also be in the report. Importantly, instances of when your identity was used for fraud may also appear in your credit file.
This may sound like a daunting list and indeed your personal credit report is likely to include plenty of information on your financial history – more than the sample images we’ve provided here.
However, it is also important to remember that there are details which cannot be included on your file. There are no details of your savings accounts, as this is not connected to your credit history; nor is there a record of what you actually purchased on your credit card. In addition, details of salary, religion, health or criminal record cannot be included on your file.
So that’s a pretty exhaustive list of what you can expect your credit file to look like. You are perfectly entitled to see a copy of your file and in actual fact it is a good idea to check it out if you’ve never seen it before or haven’t checked it for some time.
There may be discrepancies which you wish to rectify and the registered reference agencies may have accumulated slightly different information to one another. Be sure to contact them as these discrepancies can make the difference between getting accepted or rejected for a loan or credit card.
Jessica Marcus is a writer and blogger for a variety of business and personal finance websites. Currently, she co-owns a women’s frugal and lifestyle blog and consults on business development strategies.