Making sure you have the right information on your credit report is essential, not just if you want to apply for any form of finance, but also because potential landlords and employers may want to check your information as well. But even if you think you’ve maintained a perfect credit history, the number of different sources of data that the UK’s four Credit Reference Agencies draw from leaves plenty of room for errors.
Though rare, mistakes on credit reports do happen. Depending on the type of error, the overall impact on your credit rating can vary; an energy provider that has spelt your name incorrectly and created a new ‘alias’ carries far less weight than someone else’s negative markers appearing on your credit report by way of a financial association that shouldn’t be there.
The only way to be sure that everything is correct though, is to check for yourself. With checkmyfile, you’ll be able to see and compare everything being reported and put yourself in a potential lenders’ shoes. It’s free to try for 30 days, then £14.99 a month thereafter. You’re free to cancel online and without quibble at any time.
How do I dispute information on my report?
On the rare occasion that your credit report is found to have errors on it, it’s important to remember that they aren’t set in stone, and provided you can prove the information is incorrect, most lenders and credit reference agencies will be able to help get it corrected.
Because there are numerous sources of information that your credit file draws from, not all processes will be identical, but as a rule of thumb, most anomalies can be amended by reporting them directly to the lender involved, or failing that, the Credit Reference Agency reporting the data.
If the party responsible for lodging the error admits a mistake on their end, they have one month to amend your credit file with the correct details, and the changes should be visible to anyone checking your report – including yourself, shortly afterwards.
Each case is different, and the team of Credit Analysts at checkmyfile are best placed to point you in the right direction, depending on the circumstance. As a general guide, the process of getting an error amended goes something like this:
Step 1: Go to the source
Most Credit Reference Agencies could justifiably subscribe to the old adage: “don’t shoot the messenger.” In the most cases they are only reporting the information that has been passed to them by lenders and other data sources, and don’t have the ability to verify its accuracy or change it without express instruction.
For that reason, we always recommend starting any enquiries about incorrect information by going to the source reporting it. They have a legal obligation to make sure all the information they pass on to their chosen Credit Reference Agency is correct and as such should be able to make any changes quickly (where they agree an error has been made) once you have informed them of an issue.
Step 2: Contact the Credit Reference Agencies
If after trying the first step you still haven’t got the information on your credit report corrected, you can contact the Credit Reference Agencies themselves to challenge the information via a Notice of Dispute.
A Notice of Dispute forces the Credit Reference Agency reporting the information to investigate the data and ask the organisation that lodged it to verify its accuracy. While this is being processed, a marker will be added to your credit report to let other organisations know that it’s under dispute. There’s no guarantee that the lender will agree, but it at least forces them to look into it again.
If your issue relates to another person appearing on your report, you can use a notice of disassociation instead. Financial Associations are created when two individuals apply for finance together – be that a current account, mortgage or lease agreement. This will remain in place until the Credit Reference Agency is told differently, even if the account is closed. If the account remains open, then the association cannot be removed.
You might have read about the option of adding a Notice of Correction to your credit file. This allows you to add a short 200-word explanation to your credit report explaining the circumstances behind an entry. Whilst it does force any prospective lender to take it into account, it doesn’t mean that they are obliged to let it influence their decision. In our experience, it’s unlikely to have a positive impact and will simply delay any application you make.
Which parts of my credit file are most prone to errors?
Because the information on your credit file is collated from a wide variety of sources, errors can appear in a number of different places, so ideally you should check all of the information on your credit report regularly. Some issues will carry more weight than others, so are worth being extra vigilant for.
Electoral Roll information
Electoral Roll data is used as a means to verify that you live at the address you have provided during a check or application. Even if you are correctly registered to vote, it can go unreported by credit reference agencies, which could in some cases affect your ability to get credit. Each agency maintains their own database separately, and so it’s vital to check them all.
Being added to the Electoral Roll is not a quick process, taking up to 3 months if done during the annual canvass period. For the rest of the year, it should take around a month for your electoral roll information to appear on your file.
If you are not confirmed on the Electoral Roll it is very important that this is updated as soon as possible. This can be done by disputing the information with each credit reference agency who will probably ask for a letter of confirmation from your council as evidence.
Address links are treated by lenders as a valuable source of previous addresses where you have held credit in the past. Usually these do not cause a problem but are worth checking for.
Address links are reported by lenders, and occasionally the lender may register you as living at an incorrect address, most regularly as a result of variations in the format or layout of the address. This can cause issues for anyone wanting to check your credit file: any variations in the way your address is recorded can make it difficult to retrieve all your information correctly.
You may also see an alias on your file: an alias is another name which you may have previously been known as – these are most commonly maiden names. However, they can also be created through typos and administrative errors by lenders or Credit Reference Agencies themselves. These are unlikely to cause issues when you apply for credit, but in extremely rare circumstances, you may find you may find you have someone else’s name altogether as an alias, associated with a credit account you know nothing about.
This is most frequently as a result of sharing a household with people that have a similar name, commonly family members. In this case we would recommend consulting the Credit Reference Agency reporting this information and if necessary, disputing it.
One of the main reasons we advise regular credit file checks is to minimise any potential financial impact as a result of fraud. Because your credit file shows all forms of credit that have been taken out in your name, any forms of finance taken out in your name without your knowledge or consent will appear on your report.
It is best to tackle any suspected cases of fraud as quickly as possible and your credit report is the best resource at your disposal when looking for any changes to your credit history. Even if you do find yourself falling victim to fraud, it’s not too late to act on it.
Any record of having missed payments on credit agreements could definitely affect your ability to get credit and so the last thing you want is for one to be recorded against you in error. Should you disagree with the information that has been lodged and provided you can supply supporting evidence (in the form of bank statements or credit agreement paperwork) that the late payment is incorrect, it is possible to get them removed.
In rare, extreme cases – more severe negative markers may incorrectly appear on your credit report, but like missed payments, provided you can prove that they are incorrect these too can be removed from your file.
Do I need to dispute something with all Credit Reference Agencies?
If something is being reported incorrectly by multiple Credit Reference Agencies as a result of a mistake made by a lender, the lender should update each Agency with the new information. If however the mistake comes from multiple Agencies, they will each need to be informed of the change.
In some circumstances this is something we can do on your behalf.
The importance of regularly checking your credit report
One of the many benefits of the checkmyfile credit report is that it allows you to check and compare data from 4 Credit Reference Agencies together.
You can try checkmyfile free for 30 days, then for £14.99 a month which you can cancel at any time. You’ll have full access to the UK’s most detailed credit report, letting you see the bigger picture when it comes to your finances.
Article credit Article by Katherine Cornell – 19th March 2019