10 Credit Myths Busted

Posted by Kirstie Day in Credit Score on 11 July 2018

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 what an important role it can play, there are still a number of popular myths surrounding them.

All agencies hold the same information

There are four Credit Reference Agencies in the UK - namely Callcredit, Crediva, Equifax and Experian. Lenders share information with these agencies, typically via monthly updates, which is then made visible to other lenders through a process known as reciprocity. Basically, by sharing information about their own customers, lenders are able to access data on potential customers, in order to make more informed lending decisions.

Each lender has its own relationships in place, and can choose to share information with any one - or more than one - agency. At present, Crediva only reports ‘public’ information such as Electoral Roll and Court data.

As a result, a Credit Report obtained from one agency can differ to that held by another and a lender would only be able to see the information held by the agency or agencies that they search.

checkmyfile provides the UK’s only Multi-Agency credit report, including data from all four Credit Reference Agencies at differing levels of detail. You can see your full Credit History as reported to Callcredit and Equifax, and also compare the public data held by all four.

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 online at any time.

Checking your report harms your credit score

One common misconception in the UK is that checking your own Credit Report will in some way count against you and damage your Credit Score. The good news is, it doesn’t!

It’s true that whenever you or someone else searches your credit report it leaves a Search Footprint, which will be visible to you and some lenders, but the presence of these markers alone won’t harm your score. Depending on the reason for the search – for example, whether it’s an application for credit or a simple ID check, the type of search will vary. Searches can only really harm your Credit Rating if you were to make a large number of credit applications in a very short space of time, which some lenders could interpret as desperation.

When you look at your own Credit Report an audit search is created. This is only seen by yourself and the agency so you know when your report has been viewed.

The decision to lend or not is made by the agencies themselves

When you apply for credit, a lender will search your details with one or more Credit Reference Agency in order to obtain the information held on your Credit Report. Each lender then applies their own lending criteria to the data and (in the vast majority of cases) use automated credit scoring to determine whether or not to accept an application.

The decision to lend to you is entirely down to the lender alone, the Credit Reference Agencies only provide the data and have no say in the outcome of your application.

It’s worth remembering that the information held by the Credit Reference Agencies is taken from a number of different sources including lenders, courts and local councils, and do not ‘create’ any information themselves.

Having no loans or credit card in the past means a great

Many people believe that if they have never borrowed, it proves they have never needed to be in debt and so should have an excellent Credit Score.

However this is not the case. Without a credit history no which to base a decision, lenders are likely to be more reluctant to approve an application, as they don’t have any evidence of how you have maintained your credit agreements in the past – which is the best indicator of how you are likely to manage one in the future.

A non-existent or limited credit history will therefore likely result in a lower credit score.

A bad credit score will haunt you forever

If you’re in the position where you have negative information on your report (even if it’s just a single missed payment), you can rest assured that this will not remain on your credit file until the end of time.

Information reported on your report will be removed after a set time period – for closed accounts, defaulted entries and court information, this is six years. Once this period has elapsed, the entries are typically removed by the agencies within one calendar month.

Insolvency records such as bankruptcy will also remain on a Credit Report for a period of six years but will also show whether or not an individual has been ‘discharged’.

Whilst serious arrears and other negative information will almost certainly harm your ability to get credit, the impact that they have should diminish over time, especially if other credit accounts are well maintained. Once all negative information has been removed, it’s possible for your Credit Score to jump up quite considerably.

Closing accounts with late payments increases your score

Some people believe that they can increase their Credit Rating by closing down agreements that have late payments recorded against them, but this is a common misconception. Even if an account is closed, it will still be reported for a period of six years, and will be visible to any lender that searches you.

Closing accounts that you no longer use could help an application in another way, though. Lenders could be reluctant to grant credit if you hold unused or ‘dormant’ accounts with large credit limits and so by reducing the amount of available credit you have prior to applying, you could in theory make yourself less of a risk to lend to.

Being rich will result in a higher score

While you are asked about your salary information as part of a credit application, this is to reassure lenders that your monthly income in enough to cover any monthly repayments and to help set an appropriate credit limit.

Your salary information is never reported to Credit Reference Agencies and as a result does not form part of a credit scoring assessment.

‘Wealth’ in general is not reported by Credit Reference Agencies and so it’s quite possible to be cash-rich but have a poor credit rating and find it difficult to obtain credit.

Just because you’ve got a healthy bank balance, it doesn’t mean you’ll be a responsible borrower, and so lenders apply the same scoring criteria that that do to everyone.

Previous occupants at your address can affect your own rating

When you move into a new property, one of the last things you want to worry about is previous occupants having left unpaid debts registered at your address. Although it’s undoubtedly annoying and can be worrying, it’s not something to lose sleep over - someone else’s debt is exactly that: theirs and theirs alone.

Even if debt collectors turn up on the door step, you’ve got nothing to worry about if the person they’re after no longer lives there and isn’t financially associated to you - just follow our steps on how to deal with debt collectors.

Credit information is based on individuals, not their addresses.

Paying a default means it will be removed immediately

Unless you pay within 14 days of receiving a Default Notice, a Default will remain on your Credit Report for six years regardless of whether the full amount has been paid or not.

Although a lender will be able to see that the balance has been paid in full (and as a result you may look slightly more appealing to potential lenders), many lenders see the presence of a Default in the first place as reason enough to not offer you credit.

I can’t get credit because I’m on a Blacklist

One of the most common myths surrounding credit reporting concerns address blacklists and being declined if you live in a certain area. This is so widespread that there are all sorts of myths surrounding blacklists alone.

It is vital to remember that there is no such thing as an address blacklist – instead lenders will assess your application using the data held on your Credit Report, including payment history reported by lenders, Electoral Roll information and any court or insolvency records held by the Registry Trust and Insolvency Service. Simply put, there’s no such thing as a blacklist.

The fact of the matter is, until you check your credit report, you have no idea what may or may not be affecting your ability to get credit. 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 online at any time.

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