Covid 19 Status

In line with HM Government requirements to fight the spread of Covid-19 we have measures in place to ensure that we protect our staff, their families and the wider community, but also to ensure that there is minimal disruption to our customers.

Your access to online Multi Agency Credit Reports, Expert Help and Account Management remains unaffected. We take great pride in the support that we provide to our customers and throughout this period will do all we can to minimise the impact on our services. While the country remains in lockdown we will continue to support your queries via a dedicated and experienced team that will be securely working from home, and supported by a Management Team that will continue to be based at our head office and who will be able to provide customer support as required.

The security measures that we have in place to protect your Personal Data, in line with our Privacy Policy, will mean that some elements of our personalised support are affected during this period as our support team will be working with anonymised data when working remotely. Freephone access to our Credit Analysts has been removed during this period while we focus our efforts on continuing to reply to all of your emails and secure messages within one working day.

Thanks for your understanding, and we hope to have full customer support available as soon as possible and wish you well during these challenging times.



China's Social Credit Scoring: How Does it Work?

Posted by Jamie Mackenzie Smith in Credit Score on 10 May 2018

Launched in 2012 and expected to be fully-implemented by 2020, China’s Social Credit System (SCS) could be described as at best an invasion of privacy and at worst a simple case of unabashed state-controlled oppression. Based loosely on the principles used in traditional credit scoring, this system goes several steps further to score you as a citizen and assesses how much you contribute to/hinder society.

Linked to a mobile payment app that’s widely used in China (similar to Apple Pay or Google Wallet), the system builds up a profile of each individual and what they’re spending their hard-earned Yuan on. The app is also connected to a social media profile and can be linked to a driving license and car registration.

This inter-connectivity allows the country’s CCTV systems to spot deviant acts, and using facial recognition software to locate any individuals involved, ‘points’ are accordingly deducted from their social profile. By encouraging individuals to pay for goods and services via the app, it also builds up an idea of spending habits fairly quickly as well.

In a way, this all-encompassing approach to linking your finances with everyday activities is similar to what open banking has hoped to achieve. Unlike open banking (which you can be forgiven for not having used) there seems to be no escaping China’s social scoring and it’s only set to escalate in the lead up to 2020.

How do you ‘gain points’ in China’s social score?

The alleged overarching reasoning behind China’s foray into social scoring is to help promote the values associated with being an upstanding member of the public. As many observers have pointed out though, the whole thing is more than just a little bit ‘Orwell 2.0’, especially as the scheme is expected to be rolled out across the entire country within the next two years.

The moral thinking behind the system means that if you do things that are perceived to make you a ‘good’ citizen, you will be rewarded with a higher score – so pay your bills on time, obey the law and make sure you don’t publicly criticise the government, and you should have nothing to fear.

Things that will improve a social score:

  • Paying bills on time
  • Buying Chinese-made goods
  • Praising the government on social media
  • Being friends with other high-scorers on social media
  • Donating to charity
  • Looking after your family

Like traditional credit scoring in the UK, the higher your rating, the more likely you are to be able to access certain benefits. For us that would mean easier access to credit and lower interest rates. A better credit rating could also mean you can access benefits such as airport lounge access, cashback or frequent flier miles via certain ‘rewards’ credit cards.

In China, the benefits of having a higher social score will be slightly more varied to reflect the wider range of things that factor into building the score. For those that qualify, these perks make life that little bit more comfortable.

Potential perks of a good social score

The incentives for ‘playing the game’ can be quite compelling: if praising the government on social media meant free Ford Mustang rental, it’s reasonable to expect that we’d see a marked increase in people posting #XiJinpingisgreat before going to sleep each night.

But when it comes to motivation, every carrot dangles from a stick and if you’re not won over by the benefits, you might be more influenced by the thought of what happens to the citizens with a low social score.

How do you lose points?

Unlike credit scoring in the UK (for the most part), what you can be penalised for is not restricted to your borrowing and repayment history. If you act in a way that is deemed untoward to your fellow countryman, you could soon start to find life getting that little bit less comfortable.

In a bid to encourage greater integration within society, your behaviour can be monitored and, if necessary, punished by lowering your score and in some instances by receiving an on-the-spot fine via text message.

Things that will harm your social score:

  • Bad driving
  • Playing video games
  • Befriending people with a low social score
  • Jaywalking
  • Smoking in non-smoking areas
  • Leaving a bike on a footpath
  • Insincere apologies
  • Playing God

This is tracked in a number of ways; purchasing items via the payment app will show your purchase history, your linked social media account will give an insight into the company you keep and good old-fashioned surveillance cameras with identity recognition software (also linked to your social media account) will take care of the rest.

Potential punishments for a bad social score:

One reason that the SCS is described as ‘still in progress’ and ‘not yet fully rolled out’ is that only a few of the perks and drawbacks are live. But already the effects are apparent: last year as many as 17.5 million Chinese citizens were unable to buy airline tickets and a further 5 million barred from rail travel because they are named on a public blacklist which takes its information from this scoring system.

Is it working?

As you might expect, the system has been hailed as a success by some people, and a hindrance by others. Perhaps the easiest distinction to make would be: those embracing the system are feeling the benefit while those who have not are feeling its full force.

Some of China’s citizens have openly said that they are very pleased with the system, but it can be hard to take that kind of endorsement at face value when criticising government policy leads to a lower social score and quality of life takes a hit as a result.

Parallels to regular credit scoring

If China’s social scoring system seems excessive, that’s probably because it is. But if elements of it sound familiar, that’s because they echo some of the basics of credit scoring that have been used in the west for decades.

The reason behind this is most likely because the scoring system has been developed by Alibaba, a Chinese group that specialises in online money transfers and E-commerce. They have their own credit scoring system called Sesame Credit, which expands on the fundamental principles used by Credit Reference Agencies around the globe.

The most obvious similarity is the positive impact of paying bills & taxes on time – failure to do so may harm your rating and restrict the availability of other forms of finance in the future. The similarities don’t end there either: financial associations can affect your own chances of getting credit (for better or worse), a good credit history can help bring down insurance costs and the information on your report can make a big difference to the outcome of a landlord or employer check.

Though their existence is something of a myth in the UK, the idea of a credit blacklist is hardly new either.

The main difference? Well, your credit report doesn’t care how bad a driver you are or how many hours a day you spend playing video games. It is formed from information that lenders deem useful to determine how likely you are to default on a payment if they lend you money. Nothing is hidden, nothing is nefarious and nothing is on there that should prevent you from having a good quality of life.

You can see everything that is reported about you by four Credit Reference Agencies by checking our multi-agency report. If you haven’t already, you can try checkmyfile FREE for 30 days, then for just £14.99 a month afterwards, which you can cancel at any time.

Updated 21/03/2019 by Jamie Mackenzie Smith

Do Student Loans Affect my Credit Score?

According to government statistics for 2019, UK students (those currently studying and already graduated) owe a colossal £121 billion in outstanding student loans. To put this gigantic pile of UK debt into perspective, it overshadows the entire world’s combined annual budget for space programmes. All the cutting-edge, space-bound engineering and cosmic knowledge of the world’s most well-funded space agencies, NASA (US), ROSCOSMO (Russia), and CNSA (China) only collectively reach an estimated £28 billion a year – barely comparable to the grim achievement of today’s British students.

Published on 4 Mar 2020 by Sam Griffin

Full Article

What's More Important: Your Credit Score or Report Data?

The relationship between Credit Scores and Credit Reports is pretty cyclical: one being strong usually means the other is equally good and you should have easy access to credit, right? Well, in a way. You might be surprised though how much of a role a ‘score’ really plays when it comes to borrowing.

Published on 12 Feb 2020 by Paul Anderson-Riley

Full Article

Do we use FICO in the UK?

A US news story has dropped that’s generating some charged discussion about FICO, the American credit scoring company. FICO has recently announced that the way it calculates Credit Scores is changing. Due to a re-jig in its algorithm, an estimated '40 million Americans are likely to see their Credit Scores drop'.

Published on 10 Feb 2020 by Sam Griffin

Full Article

Bad credit on an address myths

When moving into a new house, the first thoughts that go through your mind could be along the lines of “what colour am I going to paint the kitchen?” or “will my wardrobe actually fit in the bedroom?” You may not immediately ask yourself “I wonder how much debt the previous occupant had!”

Published on 9 Jan 2020 by Kirstie Brown

Full Article

10 Credit Myths Busted

Credit checks are an integral part of modern life: from buying a house or car to applying for a new job or passing a tenancy check, your Credit Report is remarkably versatile. But considering the important role Credit Reports can play, there are still a number of popular myths surrounding them. We’ll look at ten misconceptions to point you in the right direction.

Published on 30 Dec 2019 by Kirstie Day

Full Article

How does my ‘Credit Age’ affect my Credit Score?

Credit age is a difficult concept to define and can be tricky to get your head around. This isn’t about what year you were born – it’s more a reflection of how long and to what extent you’ve been using credit and is an important consideration when looking at your Credit Score - especially if you’re looking to improve it.

Published on 23 Dec 2019 by Andrew Brown

Full Article

Age matters when it comes to your credit score

Credit Action, the National Money Education Charity, scares everyone witless every month with unnerving financial statistics. A few examples include the fact that a property is repossessed every hour and 43 minutes, that every four minutes someone is declared insolvent, and that the Citizens’ Advice Bureau deals with 2,595 new cases every day. In its October 2019 statistics, the charity advised that average household debt is a mere £59,441 including mortgages. According to the BBC, the stat without mortgages has risen sharply to £15,385.

Published on 5 Dec 2019 by Barry Stamp

Full Article

Is there discrimination in credit assessment?

Apple could find itself in hot water in the US after a weekend of high-profile claims that applicants to its recently launched Credit Card were discriminated against on the basis of gender.

Published on 11 Nov 2019 by Barry Stamp

Full Article

Why do I get different Credit Scores?

The first ever idea of a Credit Score was introduced in the 1950s in the United States. Almost by accident, as Bill Fair and Earl Isaac discovered that a study looking at a potential predictor of ill health could be better used to predict bankruptcy and default. They teamed up to form Fair Isaac, Inc, now FICO, to sell credit scores to lenders. FICO scores are now household names by consumers in the US, as they are used extensively, with little competition.

Published on 3 Sep 2019 by Andrew Brown

Full Article

Does Gambling Affect Your Credit Score?

If you’re among the 32% of Brits that gamble on a weekly basis and are thinking of applying for some form of credit in the near future, you might be wondering whether your activity could affect your Credit Rating and your chances of being accepted.

Published on 13 Jun 2019 by Richard Catlin

Full Article


We are rated number 1 for customer service on