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.



A Cautionary Tale About Switching Banks

Posted by Richard Catlin in Banking on 19 December 2018 - Richard is Marketing Director at checkmyfile.

Switching current account providers is incredibly easy these days – and I can vouch for that from recent personal experience. But experiencing the process first hand has also served as a reminder that it’s not completely flawless and that if you don’t pay attention, your Credit Rating could take a hit – even if it’s a temporary one.

Having been a loyal First Direct customer for around 15 years, I was finally tempted to move away by mobile-only challenger bank Starling.

First Direct had done nothing wrong – I had always experienced the same outstanding customer service (which has helped them top our annual banking and card survey for the past 11 years) whenever I had need to contact them, but the online and mobile banking still felt like it was stuck in the mid-2000s and so I felt it was time to try something new.

After being with the same current account provider for such a long time, I wasn’t sure what to expect, but armed with nothing more than the Starling app, the wheels were set in motion on my switch with just a few taps.

Life lesson #1: Always check things for yourself

I was reassured that under the Current Account Switch Guarantee, everything would be taken care of for me, including migrating all existing outgoing and incoming payments from my old account to my new one, shifting balances across and closing the old account.

Indeed, over the next couple of weeks, I received regular notifications that existing regular payments had been set up and would be taken from the new account as scheduled. On the day of the switch, my balance was automatically moved across and the old account closed.

A few regular payments were still showing as ‘pending’ but they weren’t due until later in the month and I wasn’t too worried – one of the promises the Current Account Switch Guarantee makes is that it will refund any charges should anything go wrong.

Life lesson #2: sometimes you need to Take Matters into your own hands

A few days later, I got another push notification from Starling, advising me that it was still waiting for confirmation that a handful of regular payments had been set up. One of those jumped out at me - my monthly repayment on a personal loan.

My next port of call was to contact my loan provider to ask them whether my Direct Debit was due to come out of my new account. I was advised that payment was still due to be requested from my old (now closed) bank account.

The customer service representative that I spoke to suggested that the only way to be certain of avoiding the payment being rejected – and a late payment marker being added to my Credit Report – was to make an additional manual payment for the amount due. Just what you want to hear at this time of year.

Life lesson #3: Protect Your Credit Rating where possible

A late payment fee of up to £25 for paying late would clearly not be a welcome Christmas present, but that would be the least of my worries. In addition to the penalty for missing a payment, my loan provider would also share the information with the UK’s Credit Reference Agencies – which would then be visible to other lenders and would potentially reduce my chances of getting approved for credit in the future.

Even if the late payment fee was subsequently refunded as part of the Switch Guarantee, it would potentially involve a lot of further to-ing and fro-ing to get the record of the late payment removed and would likely take at least a few weeks. Whilst I have no plans to apply for credit right now, I wouldn’t like to do so knowing that the most recent entry a potential lender could see was a late payment.

It’s only really because of my job that I was so on-the-ball. Many people will simply take the Switch Guarantee as gospel and assume that payments will transfer okay and even if they don’t, that someone else will sort out the problem for them. It’s likely that any late payment that comes about because of switching banks like this will eventually be removed, but it won’t be instant.

The moral of the story is that whilst it might be easy to switch current accounts, it’s not an excuse to risk your Credit Rating. Keep a close on every single payment that is meant to switch over and consider monitoring your Credit Report whilst it’s going through.

If you haven’t already, you can try checkmyfile free for 30 days. After that it’s £14.99 a month if you don’t cancel – which can be done at any time online. You’ll see data from all four Credit Reference Agencies together and get a good idea of how a typical lender is likely to rate you.

Paying late could cost you more than a £12 charge

So called ‘stealth charges’ are relics from before the 2008 financial crisis and didn’t just catch consumers unaware with surprise payments but also represented a total lack of transparency between customers and their banks. The Office of Fair Trading ruled that the fees were unlawful, after having brought a test case against the biggest banks at the time: Abbey National, Barclays, Clydesdale, Halifax, Bank of Scotland, HSBC, Lloyds, Nationwide, NatWest, and Royal Bank of Scotland.

Published on 2 Jan 2020 by Richard Catlin

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Hey Google, what’s my bank balance?

Personal finance and financial services are hurtling into the future at a ferocious pace. Google is the latest tech giant looking to take another sideways step into fintech, via a new collaboration with Citigroup. At some point during 2020, it’s rumoured that Google is planning to begin offering the capability to access current accounts through Google Pay. In theory this presents the ability to view and manage your bank account using a Google app – something not previously possible.

Published on 4 Dec 2019 by Andrew Brown

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How does an overdraft affect your Credit Report?

An overdraft can either be a financial lifeline, or something of a millstone. Which side of that fence you fall probably depends on how much of that usage is pre-planned.

Published on 5 Jul 2019 by Andrew Brown

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Your Credit Rating Vs A Country's: What's The Difference?

Professor Edward Altman first published the Altman Z-score formula in 1968 to evaluate the likelihood of a businesses going bust within two years. The legacy of this system lives on, with the fundamental basics of his score helping to shape the Credit Scoring systems we use today - whether that’s a simple application for car finance or assessing the economic strength of an entire nation.

Published on 13 Dec 2018 by Beth Jennings

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Final PPI claim deadline pushed back even further

Let’s be honest, we almost all know someone who has claimed for PPI. You may have even done it yourself. If you aren’t aware of anyone you know claiming for PPI, you would still know of its existence, as the adverts for claims firms seem to populate every TV channel and radio station with advertising space.

Published on 4 Jan 2017 by Ben Tumilty

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Banks not going far enough to combat fraud

Banks have been warned that they must start to do more to tackle scams where people are tricked into transferring money to a fraudster’s account. The Payment Systems Regulator (PSR) has stated this in a response to a “super complaint” lodged by the consumer group Which? but the Regulator did stop short of suggesting that the banks should compensate customers who had lost out.

Published on 21 Dec 2016 by Erika Bone

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Lloyds Acquire MBNA in £1.9bn Deal

Signalling a return to strength and in the organisation’s first acquisition since the 2008 global financial crisis when they purchased HBOS, Lloyds Bank is to buy credit card firm MBNA from Bank of America in a £1.9bn deal.

Published on 20 Dec 2016 by Tom Magor

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Mortgages through your mobile

Mobile bank provider Atom are launching the UK’s first mobile mortgage app. Applications for a mortgage often involve mountains of paperwork and Atom’s mortgage app is designed at reducing the volume of paperwork that applicants have to gather when applying for a mortgage.

Published on 8 Dec 2016 by Ben Ryland

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Compensation Scheme Limit Increases Due to Financial Uncertainty

The compensation limit for consumers who would lose out financially in the event of their bank collapsing has been increased back up to £85,000, which is where it was in July 2015.

Published on 23 Nov 2016 by Kevin Pearce

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Further Job cuts and Branch closures at Lloyds

The Lloyds Banking Groups is set to cut a further 665 jobs and close a further 49 branches as part of its continuing drive to cut costs.

Published on 14 Nov 2016 by Neil Greenhill

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