Your credit report(also known as a credit file) is a document that contains information about your past financial behaviour – most importantly how much money you have borrowed, who you borrowed it from, how much you still owe and whether or not you paid it back on time. The information on your credit report stays on file for 6 years.
Some of the data in your credit file comes from publicly available sources. Lenders also share information about you. Credit reports usually contain the following:
- Details about your bank accounts & overdrafts
- A list of credit accounts
- Details of any late or missed payments
- Personal details such as your name, address and date of birth
- A list of your previous addresses
- Details of any bankruptcies or IVA’s
- Details of any County Court Judgements you’ve had
- Whether you’ve had your home repossessed
- Whether you’ve moved home to avoid debts
Lenders will use your credit report to calculate your credit score. Be aware that every time you apply for credit, a ‘mark’ is made on your credit report.
The first step to improving your credit score is actually looking at your credit report!
Credit files are held by companies known as credit reference agencies. There are three of these companies in the UK – they are Experian, Equifax and Callcredit. They normally charge a fee for accessing your credit report, however you can get around this and view it for free. Experian offer a 30-day free trial, after which they charge around £15 a month. 30 days is plenty of time to tidy things up, after which you simply cancel the trial!