Your Credit Report – The Basics
WHAT IS A CREDIT FILE?
Your credit file is a document which contains a collection of data about you. It includes basic identifying information, such as your name and any previous names you’ve been known by, your date of birth and your address history.
It also contains information about any financial accounts you may have, such as your current account, loans, credit cards, mobile phone contracts and more – and how you conduct those accounts. Your credit report will show whether you’ve paid a debt on time each month, and also negative data such as missed/late payments on an account, accounts you have defaulted on, any County Court Judgments registered against you, along with bankruptcies and repossessions.
It will also contain the names of anyone with whom you are financially associated. If you have a joint account, joint loan or joint mortgage with someone, their name will be linked to your credit file.
All this information combined is what determines your credit rating.
Sometimes all 3 credit files will be identical, however sometimes one will contain information that the others don’t. This is because some lenders don’t report their data to all 3 agencies.
WHO HAS A CREDIT FILE?
Everyone in the UK over the age of 18 has a credit file.
WHY DO YOU HAVE A CREDIT FILE?
When you apply for any type of financial product, such as a loan, credit card, car finance or mortgage, the lender/financial institution will check your credit file to see whether you are likely to make the repayments on time each month, based on your past performance.
Simply put, they check to see whether you are a good or bad risk.
If your credit file contains minimal information or negative data you may be refused the credit facility.
HOW LONG IS DATA HELD?
Your credit file contains information on your accounts, and how you conducted them, for 6 years. A payment due 1st April 2020, and whether it was paid on time or not, will show on your file until May 2026.
A default or CCJ will stay on your file for 6 years from the date the default or CCJ is registered, regardless of when the account was first opened or whether you subsequently repaid the outstanding amount.
The same goes for any bankruptcy or repossession.
CREDIT SCORE vs CREDIT FILE
You only have 3 credit files, and other than ensuring the data is correct, there is nothing you can do to change those files.
Your credit score on the other hand is as varied as the weather. You only have to check your credit score with the 3 credit reference agencies to see the difference. You could be 999/1000 with Experian but score a 483/700 with Credit Karma and a different figure with Equifax altogether.
Each and every lender or institution has their own credit scoring system too, an algorithm they have designed based on the factors they feel are important, to set the threshold of who they will and won’t lend to.
What matters is the credit scoring system of the lender or institution you want to lend you money or provide you with a service.