Credit reference agencies and how to take control of your data
It's quick, easy and free.
By Tom Andrews
Fri 13 November 2020
Take control of your credit file
As surveys over the last year have consistently shown, over half of the UK adult population have considerable concerns about their finances.
If you’re planning on tackling your finances in the coming months, one of the most important things you can do is check your credit file to find out what businesses and lenders learn about you and can see if you apply for credit or certain goods and services. Yet countless people don’t understand what their credit file is or how to correct errors and other problems.
Rightly can help you contact multiple Credit Reference Agencies in one go with just a few clicks – and we’re the only free service in the UK that allows you to do this. Here’s why you should get started today.
What is a credit file or report and why does it matter?
A credit file is a collection of information about you that businesses use to decide if they are going to lend you money or provide goods and services.
Credit files contain a wide range of information that a Credit Reference Agency (CRA) has sourced from numerous sources, including:
- Your basic personal information, address(es) and things that confirm your identity.
- Whether you are on the electoral roll or not.
- Information on your regular payments on things like loans, mortgages and credit, along with other contractual obligations you may have. This includes when you miss payments or are in breach of contract.
- Applications for credit and other forms of lending.
- Debt collection activity where you are being pursued for outstanding debts.
- Whether you have filed for bankruptcy or an Individual Voluntary Arrangement (IVA). This is known as ‘public record’ information.
- Any joint agreements, like joint accounts or other financial arrangements. This ‘links’ you to the other person or people.
This information generally remains on your file for six years.
Why do Credit Reference Agencies have all this data?
Credit Reference Agencies are independent businesses that hold data about you securely. They make their money by providing information to businesses so they can make decisions about providing loans and credit or other services like mobile phone contracts or renting a property.
Your credit file will feature a ‘credit score’ – the agency’s assessment of your ‘credit-worthiness’. This isn’t always straightforward, so for example, if you’ve not taken out credit then you may have a lower score.
Businesses don’t always ask to see your entire credit file. They request ‘credit reports’ – the information they need to make a decision about offering your credit or services.
Mistakes do get made though – and even a small error can have a huge impact on whether you get turned down for credit. That’s why keeping on top of your credit file is vital.
Why does my credit file matter?
Understanding what data is in your credit file can save you a considerable amount of time and stress. By using Rightly, you can find out:
- If you are in the best place to apply for a mortgage, loan, or any form of finance
- What information a lender could see when making a decision
- Clearer reasons why you might have been turned down for credit
- If the CRA holds inaccurate or disputed markers on your file
- Why previous lending decisions were made about you
- How inaccurate information could be affecting your credit score
- If you've been the victim of fraud
Why should I use Rightly to contact Credit Reference Agencies?
Because there are three main CRAs, it can be time consuming and confusing to contact all of them to see and amend your credit file. In addition, credit reference agencies offer additional services for a monthly or one-off fee that often feature prominently on the website. Don’t forget that you are legally entitled to your credit file for free.
You are legally entitled to obtain information held on file by businesses like CRAs. This is known as making a ‘Subject Access Request’.
Through Rightly, you can access this information to make sure that there aren't any mistakes and protect yourself financially. Better still, Rightly is the only platform that lets you do this for free: no hidden costs, subscriptions or data sharing.
How do I get started?
The easiest way to find out where your information is by sending a request through Rightly.
- Go to our credit files page and pick from our list of credit agencies
- Add your basic details so that they can identify you
- Check your email to send your request
What if they don't reply to my request?
After the companies have received your request, they have to reply in full within 30 days, or give a valid reason for asking for an extension. If this happens, our support team is here to help!
What if the information on file is incorrect?
Now you know what’s in your credit file, you can appeal any information that’s incorrect or in dispute.
Each CRA has a different process for this, but it’s pretty straightforward to correct information that’s incorrect.
It can take up to 28 days to update your file so if you’re applying for credit, explain that there is incorrect information on file to the lender.
If you’re in dispute with a business that has placed a marker on your file then you need to take it up with them directly. However, you can still ask the credit reference agency to put a note on the file saying the information is being disputed. If you need any help with this, contact our support team.
Final thoughts 💭
Remember, your financial information counts as your personal data. That means that it's your legal right to ask any Credit Reference Agency, be that Experian, Equifax, TransUnion or any other, for your credit files.
By checking your credit files, you can make sure that all the information on there is correct. If you notice any inconsistencies, you can contact the Agency to make sure it doesn't negatively financially impact you.
Lastly, because it's your legal right, you don't need to spend money to check your files. You can check them for free today here.
Let us know how you got on @rightlydata!