How to Check Your Credit File

To obtain a copy of your credit file, simply write to each credit reference agency, or apply online. You will need to give the following information:

  • Your full name, including any middle names (and your maiden name if your name has changed)
  • Your date of birth
  • Your current address in full (remember to include your postcode)
  • Any previous addresses during the last six years
  • Each agency will charge a small fee: you can check the amount with the agency concerned. You will need to enclose a cheque or postal order for this amount, and the agency will then send a copy of your credit file to you.

When you receive your credit file, check it thoroughly to make sure that there are no errors. You will probably find that you agree with everything that has been recorded about you. However, if you suspect that something in your file is incorrect, you should write to the agency, explain why the entry is wrong and ask for it to be removed from your file. By law the agency will then have to reply to you within 28 days, either confirming that the entry has been deleted or explaining why it has to stay on your file.

The financial information relating to previous occupants of your address will not be shown on your credit file, and will not affect your own creditworthiness. However, the financial information of anyone with whom you have a financial connection, such as a joint bank account or joint mortgage, could affect your own credit record. The name will appear on your credit file, but you will not be able to see any of that person’s financial information. However, potential lenders will be able to get access to it.

If you can show that you are not financially connected to someone, whether they live in your household or not, you can apply for a Notice of Disassociation. To use this service, you should write to the credit reference agency involved, giving the full names and addresses of the people involved, and the nature of the relationship you have with the person from whom you want to be financially disassociated.

Contrary to what is sometimes rumoured, credit reference agencies do not operate a ‘blacklist’. As information providers, they are neutral and not on anyone’s side. However, they do have an obligation to give accurate information and to comply with the law. So if you find that you reach a stalemate with one or more of these agencies, and you are dissatisfied with the way the matter has been handled, you can contact the Information Commissioner and ask for assistance. You should give:

  • Your full name, address and telephone number
  • Name and address of the credit reference agency, and the agency’s reference number
  • Details of the entry in question, why you think it is incorrect, and why you think it could be detrimental to your interests

The Information Commissioner may contact the agency first to ask for its view, and you will then be sent any comments the agency has made.

You also have the right to attach a 200-word statement to your credit file, free of charge, explaining the nature of your disagreeĀ­ment. Your statement will become part of your credit file, and will be included each time your credit file is accessed.

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About the Author: Marie Mayle is a contributor to the MegaHowTo team, writer, and entrepreneur based in California USA. She holds a degree in Business Administration. She loves to write about business and finance issues and how to tackle them.

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