How Far Back Can I get my Credit History?

Posted by Jamie Mackenzie Smith in Personal Finance on 7 March 2018

For your recent payment history information, your credit file has everything you need; that’s why it’s given so much importance by lenders whenever you apply for credit. But if you’re looking for information that’s six years old or more, it’s probably not be the best place to start.

With a ‘claims deadline’ set for 2019, there are still a large number of people hunting for old account information with a view to make a claim on insurance that may have been mis-sold on a loan. For that particular purpose, your credit report might not be that useful as the information simply doesn’t go that far back.

Getting old credit reports

If you’ve seen your credit report already, you’ll be aware of the amount of detail that is held about you and your finances over the past six years. But your report is based on information that is constantly getting updated, in order to best reflect your current financial situation. Because of the way data is updated, that means there are no ‘old versions’ of your credit report being stored anywhere - it’s not as simple as calling up and asking for a copy of your credit report from August 1993.

Under the Data Protection Act, your information is only stored by Credit Reference Agencies for six years once it’s stopped being reported by lenders. The Data Protection Act prevents companies from keeping data longer than they need it, which means repayment history will be held for six years once an account has been closed or settled, but address and contact information for longer if they deem it necessary.

For this reason, lenders can (for the most part) only use the past six years of your payment history when looking at your credit report to assess whether you are a good or bad credit risk. This also means you’ll be subject to the same limitations when you view your own report, making it unlikely that you’ll be able to see accounts that have been closed for a long time.

Financial associations are treated slightly differently, and remain on your credit report until the account is closed and a manual request is made at the credit reference agencies to remove them.

The difference between open & closed credit accounts

There’s more to good credit rating than taking out finance for a short time, closing the account and assuming that the ‘good’ marker will stay with you forever. Much like a fitness regime, you have to maintain it over a long period of time or risk undoing all your good work.

Maintaining a strong credit rating over a long period of time isn’t about ‘debt’. Simply using a credit card for basic purchases (and clearing the balance) each month will allow you paint a picture of being able to manage credit facilities, and ensure that the information stays front and centre when it comes to applying for larger things such as mortgage.

Be careful about keeping old, unused credit accounts open however; some lenders will deactivate an account for being dormant too long, and there is the heightened possibility of falling victim to fraud if you don’t use or check the card regularly enough.

Some assume that because most negative information no longer appears on a credit report after six years that it will become statute barred and the debt will be written off. This is rarely the case and often the debt itself still exists even once it has been declared statute barred.

Finding old mortgage information

As with other loans and forms of finance, if you’re looking for mortgage information that’s more than six years older, you won’t see it on your credit file, so you’ll have to change tack. The best place to get information about any previous mortgages held is from paperwork you should have relating to the mortgage.

If you don’t have any mortgage paperwork, you can try searching for the property using the land registry database. For £3 you can conduct a title register search, which will give you mortgage information on any property. They may also provide a copy of the mortgage deed, which in some cases may even carry an account number.

Historic bankruptcy

Bankruptcies are handled slightly differently- like many other forms of negative information they will appear on your report for six years after being discharged, but they can remain indefinitely in the rare cases where they are not discharged.

When applying for a loan or mortgage, you will probably be asked if you have been declared bankrupt at any time. This includes after the six year period of the bankruptcy being discharged and if asked, you are legally obliged to volunteer this information or risk nullifying the complete credit agreement.

A last minute bankruptcy check is carried out on you shortly before you complete a house purchase, which checks to see if you have been declared bankrupt. The Bankruptcy and Insolvency Register is checked against your name and anyone matching your name that has an IVA will be shown. You are welcome to check this information for yourself at any time, which could be useful if you need to find the exact dates of a bankruptcy being issued.

What can my credit file show me?

Your credit file is the single most useful place to look at the financial landscape you’ve created for yourself. It shows lenders what type of borrower you’ve been in the past, how you’re managing current credit facilities, and based on that, what you’re likely to do in the future. Other key information includes your electoral roll status (which can differ at each Credit Reference Agency), financial associations and aliases, linked addresses, searches, fraud warnings, court information and more besides.

So, chances are, if you’re looking for answers about your recent credit history, your credit file will hold the answers you seek. You can check your credit report FREE for 30 days, then for just £14.99 a month afterwards. It’s the UK’s most detailed credit report, with information from 4 Credit Reference Agencies, not just 1.

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