These days, the contents of your credit report can affect your quality of life – from whether you can rent a flat, find a job, or obtain financing for a car, home, or personal loan. With your credit score representing you so often, it’s important to know how to read your credit report, and spot [...]
Free Credit Report
A credit report is a history of your credit for the past six years. Any credit account you opened or have used for the past six years will be listed, including loans and mortgages, along with a detailed payment history, the amount originally loaned or the credit line, and the amount currently due. County court judgments (CCJs), bankruptcies, and foreclosures are also listed on your report.
Why should I access my free credit report?
There are two main reasons to access your free credit report:
- Identify fraud
You’ll be able to find out if you’re the victim of fraud much faster with a credit report than without one. You’ll instantly be able to see if there is any unauthorised activity on your accounts, or if there are accounts open in your name that you did not personally open.
- Assure accuracy of your credit history
These days, it’s more important than ever to be sure that your credit history accurately reflects your credit past. Not only are lenders concerned with your credit habits, but landlords and sometimes even employers are also accessing your credit report to see how you manage your finances. The last thing you want is for an error or inaccuracy to cause you to be denied a loan, turned down for a flat, or passed over for a job or promotion.
If you’ve already been denied a loan, flat, or job, it’s helpful to access your credit report to determine why. You may know that you have had problems with your credit in the past, but identifying the exact problems, plus seeing when those items will be removed from your report, will help you get back on your feet financially. Once you find out why you’re being denied credit, you can start a plan of action. If it’s getting very close to the negative items being removed from your account, which takes six years, you’ll have a definitive date as to when you can start shopping for a loan without having to worry about that item. If you have recent negative items on your credit report, pinpointing the problem can help prevent it in the future. Are you frequently behind on payments? Do you miss payments? Use your credit report to help you make a budget that avoids getting behind in the future.
I thought there was a fee to check my credit report. How can I get a free credit report?
You can get a free credit report online from each of the credit reference agencies, Equifax, Experian, and Call Credit. It’s a good idea to get a report from each of the agencies, so that you can compare the information to assure complete accuracy. Some information may differ, and you will need to contact the credit reference agencies to be sure that all three reports are as identical as possible.
When you access your credit report, there are a few items you should pay attention to:
- Your name and address are taken directly from the electoral roll. If there is a problem with this information, you should contact the local authority where you registered for electoral roll. If the address differs only slightly from your actual address, be aware that the electoral roll address is the “official” one, and therefore may not be exactly as you wrote on your registration.
- County court judgments (CCJs) mean that someone took you to court over an amount of money owed to them, and you have one month from the judgement date to pay the amount due. If you paid within the month, the CCJ will be removed from your credit report. If you paid within the month, but there is still a CCJ on your report, you will need to contact the credit reference agencies and send proof of payment.
- Bankruptcies and foreclosures stay on your credit report for six years. If it has been more than six years since you filed bankruptcy or were foreclosed upon, contact the credit reference agencies with proof of the date.
- Payment and balance information is listed for your credit accounts. When you look at your report, make sure that there are no high balances that you did not charge up, or payments marked as late or missed when you know you have consistently paid on time.
- Compare all three credit reports side-by-side. Make sure the information from all three credit reference agencies is uniform. If you notice a discrepancy, contact the credit reference agency that is not accurately reflecting your credit history.