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.

CREDIT REPORT SERVICES AND ONLINE EXPERT HELP ARE FULLY OPERATIONAL - PHONE LINES ARE CLOSEDCOVID-19 STATUS

ONLINE SERVICES FULLY OPERATIONAL
PHONE LINES ARE CLOSEDCOVID-19 STATUS

What Is An UltraFICO Score And Could It Work In The UK?

Posted by Katherine Cornell in Credit Score on 28 December 2018

Would-be borrowers in the US have been given a potential new route when it comes to proving their creditworthiness to potential lenders, thanks to the recently announced UltraFICO score, which looks beyond the information traditionally used to assess credit applications.

In addition to the scoring checks that are already used in credit applications, the UltraFICO score assessment includes additional factors such as current account activity and average balance, savings performance, and how long accounts have been held. Used in conjunction with more traditional checks, the idea is that this should help those people with limited credit histories to be accepted, and in particular those who might otherwise have been a ‘marginal decline’.

To obtain an UltraFICO score, users in the US will need to opt-in to the service and link the accounts they’d like to be taken into consideration. When applying for finance, consumers will also need to give their consent for the lender to carry out an UltraFICO check alongside traditional scoring factors such as payment history and outstanding debts.

Running in conjunction with Experian, ‘pilot’ tests of the new system are due to commence with a limited number of lenders early in 2019.

What are the benefits and drawbacks of UltraFICO?

Traditional credit checks do not take into account how much money you have sat in your bank account – credit scoring is a measure of creditworthiness and propensity to repay, not wealth. That said, if these new measures can be used to demonstrate financial stability (in conjunction with measuring creditworthiness), it may open up borrowing opportunities for those that would otherwise have been turned down in a borderline decision.

This extra consideration could be particularly helpful to individuals with limited credit history but are unlikely to be of much use to people with ongoing money problems or serious negative information on their Credit Report. That’s because lenders are likely to retain focus on core credit scoring checks, where a recent late payment is likely to have much more of an impact on a decision than money in the bank.

Consumers who maintain an average balance equivalent to $400 (just over £300 at time of writing) with regular current account activity and no negative balances in the previous three months are likely benefit the most.

Lenders are likely to be very cautious about putting too much faith in the new scoring system too soon, with responsible lending very much still on the agenda even ten years on since the 2008 recession. Credit Scoring is a proven mechanism for assessing creditworthiness and will remain as a core component in any lending assessment.

Critics argue that increasing the number of credit approvals should not really be a goal, and that traditional Credit Scoring – when used in conjunction with affordability tests – helps keep borrowing costs down by ensuring that credit isn’t granted when it shouldn’t be. It is also likely to take a long time before consumers see any real benefit - assuming that the programme makes it successfully through the pilot scheme of course.

The ‘chicken and egg’ scenario, where it can be difficult to get approved for credit with a limited credit history is a challenge facing many consumers, but there are plenty of specialist products designed for people that fall into this category such as ‘rebuilder’ credit cards. With a little patience and careful account management, the path to a wider selection of lenders and better products is well-established.

In fairness, UltraFICO is primarily aimed to supplement, not replace traditional credit scoring, but it is likely that lenders will adopt a very cautious approach.

Would a similar system work in the UK?

There are significant differences between how credit scoring works in the US and the UK. In the United States, most lenders use a Credit Score provided by a third party such as FICO (other score providers, including VantageScore exist) which assesses the information held by one of the three main Credit Reference Agencies.

It then falls to the individual lender to work out whether a potential customer fits the profile it is looking for. These scores can differ according to the data source being used and the product being applied for – for example car finance or a credit card.

In the UK, we cut out the middle man. Most lenders use their own credit scoring and acceptance criteria to assess the information held by Credit Reference Agencies, alongside affordability and other standard checks. There is no one Credit Score and lenders do not openly publish lending criteria.

Additionally, as many as one in four people in the UK have no savings according to The Independent, and while this is does not correlate to US savers - who are shown to save proportionally more than their UK counterparts - it would carry much less weight this side of the pond.

Overall, it’s very unlikely that we will see a similar system to UltraFICO come to the UK in the foreseeable future.

That said, lenders are always looking for ways to improve and supplement the data used in assessing applications for credit and so it’s possible that other criteria will start to play a part in lending decisions.

Open Banking in the UK uses the same technological principles, with the aim of securing better deals and choice for consumers by giving financial providers direct access to your personal banking information. Software then monitors things like your spending habits and suggests where you could save money.

Other potential uses include allowing a mortgage provider to access salary and expenditure automatically from your bank account without the need for paperwork. It is still early days, but considering that when Open Banking first launched only five banks were signed up, there has been progress and there are signs that it could have a big role to play in the future.

For the time being at least, consumers in the UK will have to rely on traditional credit scoring and acceptance criteria when applying for credit. Knowing what information is held about you, and how lenders are likely to interpret it is crucial in understanding how likely you are to be approved for credit and checking to make sure that everything is accurate.

If you haven’t already, you can try the UK’s most detailed Credit Report free for 30 days, then for just £14.99 a month afterwards, which you can cancel online, by phone or by secure message.

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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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