Can you ‘credit repair’ your credit report

Posted by Sophie Regester in Credit Reports on 23 February 2017 - Sophie is a Senior Credit Analyst at checkmyfile.

We no doubt all reach that point where we take a serious turn in our lives and we hope that youthful indiscretions can be left behind. This turning point may come when we develop a career path, look to make our financial situation more secure or decide to start a family. Part of these lifestyle changes may include budgeting or making a large purchase such as a car or a home, but invariably money will often be an important part of these plans.

Unfortunately these plans often require a good credit file, so if you haven’t been as careful in the past as you intend to be going forward, you may find that it will require some work before you are eligible for acceptance on a new car or a mortgage.

Whilst you may see this phrase being advertised, there isn’t really such a thing as ‘credit repair’. Once information is on your file it remains reported for a set period of time, unless it has been recorded in error. There are plenty of myths floating around, dangling carrots of hope that all previous financial indiscretions can be wiped clean, but myths are all they are.

That being said, if there is anything on your credit file hurting your score that you believe is incorrect, you have every right to dispute this. If the record is incorrect, it can be amended or removed as appropriate.

When raising a dispute concerning incorrect information, the first port of call should be the lender reporting the account, as it is the source of the information. It should be able to update your records and notify the credit reference agencies of the change in the quickest time frame - usually 4-6 weeks.

If you have followed the lender’s complaints procedure and still had no luck in having the record changed you can then raise a dispute with the credit reference agencies. It is worth remembering though that if a lender refuses to make the requested change, the agencies themselves will not be able to overturn this. The next step in challenging incorrect information uses your right to raise a complaint with the relevant ombudsman or regulator, who will be able to investigate impartially.

If you have negative information on your credit file, but accept that this record is accurate, credit account history will remain reported for up to six years from the account closure date. CCJ’s will remain reported for six years regardless of whether they are settled or not - unless they are paid within one calendar month - in which case they can be fully removed from your credit file. Insolvencies such as bankruptcy and IVA’s will be reported indefinitely as long as they remain active, or for six years from the date of insolvency if they are discharged.

In order to ensure you are best placed to make a credit application following the removal of any negative information, it's important to keep a close eye on how you manage other existing credit agreements and other elements of your file. Keep all credit accounts up to date and register on the Electoral Roll - this will ensure that you build up a positive history.

This is the best long term plan to improve your score but there is no quick fix short term answer unfortunately. It’s called a credit history for a reason - it takes time.

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