Guide to Credit Reference Agencies
When it comes to your credit score, three agencies in the UK hold your information. If you apply for a loan or mortgage, the lender will use this information to decide on lending you the money. A lender may use the credit report from one or more of those agencies when processing your application.
The three credit reference agencies (CRA’s) in the UK are:
Each of these companies creates a file for you. Within the file, they gather certain information, and this is used to calculate your credit score.
What information do CRAs hold?
Each of the credit reference agencies gathers information about your financial history and other details that create your credit report. The information in your credit report includes:
- Credit commitments you have had in the past
- Payment history
- Previous addresses
- Current loans and mortgages and how you are managing them
- Electoral roll information
By taking into account all of this information, the credit reference agencies give you a credit score. Any new lender you approach for credit will look at your credit score to make a decision.
Why are there three Credit Agencies?
Lenders may only report to certain agencies so your credit score can be different across all three companies. Your previous mortgage lender may report information to two of the agencies. At the same time, a loan company gives information to all three.
Because of this, the scores held by different agencies can vary. A new lender may use one or more of these CRA’s to help them decide on lending you money. Each of the agencies has a different method of calculating your credit score. With Experian, your credit score is out of a maximum of 999, while TransUnion is 710, and Equifax is 700.
Should I check my credit report?
The credit report is used for any credit you want, including mortgages and loans. It is vital to check your credit report. As a general rule of thumb, you should request your credit report from each of the three agencies once a year.
There are ways you can access your credit reports for free. Some companies can help you fully understand the information on the report, and there may be a fee for this.
Good news – FriendsCapital has partnered up with UK Credit Ratings, check your credit report here.
Experian – you can sign up for a free 30-day trial with the Experian CreditExpert service. It allows you to access your report for free for one month, charged at £14.99 per month after that.
Equifax – ClearScore gives you access to your Equifax credit report free every month. Equifax also offers a free trial of their monitoring service so you can access your report. After the free trial, you pay £9.95 per month for access to all of your information.
TransUnion – you can access your TransUnion information for free through a service called Credit Karma (previously known as Noddle).
Fixing mistakes on your credit report
When you have your credit reports from across the three UK Credit Agencies, you will need to go through all of the information. If you see anything on the report that you don’t recognise and believe is a mistake, you will need to get it fixed.
A mistake on your credit report can be anything from errors in your bank details or incorrect address details. Any inconsistencies like this will deter banks and lending companies from giving you credit. If you spot a mistake, you can contact the credit agency and request that it is corrected. The agency has 28 days to respond to your request.
Your credit report is a record of your financial history. Checking your credit report is an essential part of keeping your financial records healthy. Now you know your score you can work on improving your credit score and increase your chances of being accepted for credit in the future