Search types and their effect on your credit score

Posted by Neil Greenhill in Credit Reports on 13 January 2017 - Neil is a Senior Credit Analyst at checkmyfile

The effect of a search on your credit score or ability to obtain credit depends on the type of search recorded, how many searches have been recorded and even who is recording them.

There are three main types of search of which the most important are arguably credit application searches (credit searches). Credit searches are generally recorded where there is an application for credit, either a new account, an extension of an existing account or in some instances where an account is renewed (for instance where you upgrade a mobile phone contract).

Credit searches are taken into account when lenders decide an application, however their impact is often overstated. Too few Credit searches can indicate that you are not credit active, whereas too many in a short period of time can indicate desperation for credit. Different lenders will place a different emphasis on the number of searches on your credit file when they assess your credit applications.

In terms of your credit score, the optimum number of searches is around 10 per year – however we would never recommend that you apply for credit that you neither want nor need simply to increase the number of searches on your report.

Enquiries are generally recorded by existing lenders when checking a product is still suitable and by prospective lenders prior to an application where a “soft search” is offered by the lender. Solicitors and some lenders may use Enquiry searches as part of statutory money laundering checks which they may have to conduct, please be assured these are normally routine and don’t indicate you are suspected of money laundering.

Enquiries can also relate to tenancy and employment checks. In general these searches are not taken into account when your credit applications are decided, however the exception is where a search has been made by a debt collector. A lender may decline to assist you on the basis of an enquiry recorded by a debt collector.

Audit entries are recorded for all other accesses of your credit file, for instance when checking your credit report yourself. These entries are not even seen by prospective lenders and have no impact on your credit score or ability to obtain credit.

Most of the time the searches recorded on your credit file will reflect your own credit activity, whether that is an application for credit, a tenancy or job or an ongoing credit agreement you already have. Some however may take you by surprise, for instance where a debt collector has run an enquiry to try and locate an individual which owes an outstanding debt. Another common situation where searches may be unexpected is where an online comparison site has been used to look for a credit product such as a car insurance. Often a large number of enquiries (and sometimes audits) will have been created where such a service is used because a number of credit providers are checked at once. Further some online comparison sites will rerun the searches on the anniversary of your use of their site (so they can send further personalised promotional material when you are next expected to renew). If you contact the comparison site that you previously used you can request the removal of your consent for any further searches of this type to be carried out, which will prevent these ongoing audits and enquiries from appearing on your credit file.

If a credit search is entirely unexpected, we would recommend that you contact the lender directly for information on why the search has been run. It is important to regularly check your credit searches to ensure you recognise them – this can help alert you to any potentially fraudulent activity.

Finally, it is worth noting how long the various forms of search can remain on your credit file. Credit application searches will drop off your credit file after different lengths of time with each agency. Typically Callcredit, Equifax and Crediva retain searches for 2 years, while Experian reports searches for 1 year. It is entirely up to the individual credit reference agencies as to how long these searches are retained on their records. Enquiries typically remain on your file for 1-2 years, except those made by debt collectors, which remain for 6 years.

Check Your Multi-Agency Credit Report

30 Day Free Trial

Credit search footprints left by comparison sites

If you’re one of the millions of people who use comparison websites to make sure you’re getting the most competitive insurance quotes, you might have noticed that every time you use a comparison site, you get an increased number of searches on your credit report.

Published on 16 Feb 2018 by Arron Dickens

Full Article

What doesn’t appear on your credit report?

People are often just as surprised at what isn’t reported on their credit file as what is. It can be a bit of a shock when they finally do come to check their report and find that a lot of their spending and earning has gone largely unheralded.

Published on 19 Jan 2018 by Tom Blandford

Full Article

How long it takes to update credit file information

Time is usually of the essence when applying for credit, so making sure your credit report is in good shape before the lender sees it can mean the difference between a quick and painless application and a lengthy, drawn-out process.

Published on 16 Jan 2018 by Jamie Mackenzie Smith

Full Article

Guide to Financial Associations

It's not uncommon for someone checking their credit report for the first time to notice information that’s out of date or simply inaccurate – but by far one of the most frequent offenders for this is the record of a financial association.

Published on 15 Jan 2018 by Sam Griffin

Full Article

Update your credit reports when you want

If you subscribe to our Multi Agency Credit Reports you can choose exactly when to update your credit report by using the update button which appears at the top of your browser window when you log into checkmyfile.

Published on 4 Jan 2018 by Barry Stamp

Full Article

8 occasions your Credit Report can help when moving house

For many people, the first time they pay close attention to their credit score is when applying for their first mortgage. As a result, some consumers find themselves being declined for the simple reason that they haven’t built and maintained a good credit history leading up to their mortgage application - something that could reduce the chances of getting accepted for any type of finance.

Published on 29 Dec 2017 by Jamie Mackenzie Smith

Full Article

Cleaning Up Your Credit Report – All about 'Credit Repair'

Terms such as ‘credit repair’ and ‘credit fix’ are often used by companies offering services to remove black marks from your credit report. So can they repair your credit score and leave your credit history blemish-free, or is it too good to be true?

Published on 7 Aug 2017 by Kelly Luff

Full Article

Will checking my credit report affect my credit score

Does checking your credit report affect your credit score? This is a question we are often asked, as more and more consumers regularly access their credit history to check for errors.

Published on 7 Apr 2017 by Kelly Luff

Full Article

Can my ex impact on my credit score

One of the most common queries we receive at checkmyfile come from customers who view their credit report and discover that they’re still financially associated with an ex-partner.

Published on 28 Mar 2017 by George Coburn

Full Article

Different payment markers on your credit report

There are many elements to a credit report and some can be a little confusing, such as the different markers used to represent different payment statuses on accounts.

Published on 20 Mar 2017 by Sophie Regester

Full Article


We have loads of great customer reviews