What is a Credit Report?
A credit report details your personal credit history, including mortgages, credit cards, overdrafts, mobile phone contracts and even some utilities such as gas, electricity and water. If you're over 18 and have ever taken out credit, a credit reference agency is likely to hold a credit report on you.
Lenders - how they use your credit report
A credit report provides a snapshot of your credit accounts, repayment record and how well you are coping with your finances.
Lenders can only look at your report with your permission. They use it, along with information on your application and information they might already have, to decide whether to offer you credit - usually by calculating a credit score for your application.
They may also use it to decide how much to lend and to charge - for instance, people with an excellent record of handling credit may be offered higher credit limits and lower interest rates.
Type of information in your credit report
Your credit report *contains information that helps lenders confirm your identity and assess whether you're a reliable borrower. A credit report can include the following information:
A view of credit accounts you’ve had and whether you’ve made repayments on time and in full. Items such as missed or late payments stay on your credit report for at least six years, as do court judgments for non-payment of debts, bankruptcies and individual voluntary arrangements.
A view of electoral roll (electoral register) information for your current address and previous addresses you provide when you apply. It also contains details of any other addresses you’ve been linked to in the last six years, such as those you’ve given to lenders on application forms.
A list of the people with whom you have a financial connection, such as a joint mortgage - they are known as your financial associates. Their credit history doesn’t appear in your credit report. However, when you apply for credit, lenders are able to look at their credit history also, as their circumstances could affect your ability to repay what you owe.
Credit report information sources
Information in your credit report comes from two major sources:
- Public information - This includes electoral roll information and court judgments.
- Credit history information - Many lenders share information on what you owe, and whether you’ve paid on time. You agree to this as part of any application for credit. Some lenders only contribute information on accounts that have defaulted, but these days most share monthly updates on all customers.
Important reasons YOU for checking your credit report
- Changing jobs or home - Lenders are not the only people who can check your credit history. With your permission, prospective landlords and employers can see parts of your credit report, so it can also affect your job prospects and chances of renting a home.
- Applying for credit - If you are thinking of opening a new credit account, it makes sense to review your credit report first and make sure that everything is accurate and up to date. If there is an error, contact the organisation responsible with proof and arrange to get it corrected.
- Protecting against ID fraud - Monitoring your credit report can offer protection from one of the fastest-growing crimes of the 21st century - identity fraud. This involves criminals stealing your personal information and using it to take over existing accounts or set up new accounts in your name. Keeping an eye on your credit report enables you to spot suspicious entries and deal with problems before they escalate.