Article by Richard Catlin - 2nd July 2019

How Often Should You Check Your Credit Report

Your Credit Report is a key component in lots of important life events. What it says about you could make or break a credit application and so it’s vital that you know for yourself what’s being reported.

But how often should you check it?

It’s easier to start by covering what you shouldn’t do – which is to not check your Credit Report at all. Even if you aren’t planning on applying for credit in the near future, it’s important to make sure that everything held about you is correct and that you know where you stand.

Burying your head in the sand won’t make any problem go away and will also mean that when the time comes that you are ready to apply to borrow money, your chances of being accepted could be reduced.

Despite what you might have read elsewhere, checking your own Credit Report doesn’t harm your Credit Rating in any way (and the record of having checked will only be visible to you) meaning you can look as often as you like.

So whilst everyone should check their report regularly, there are certain times where it pays to be even more vigilant. Here are just a few of those occasions when it pays to keep a closer eye on what’s being reported…

Credit checks not involving a lender

Remember, it’s not just lenders that use your Credit Report to make decisions. Prospective landlords and even some employers will check the information it contains (to varying degrees in terms of what they can access) and judge you on it.

That means that your ability to rent a property or get a job in certain sectors could be at risk if adverse information is reported. Similarly, even something like getting a pay-monthly mobile phone contract or being able to spread the cost of car insurance over the year or pay for utilities in arrears could prove tricky.

The Electoral Roll is a key component in this type of check and carries a surprising amount of weight – especially if you don’t have a particularly detailed credit history.

If you’re planning on applying for credit

No matter what type of credit you’re thinking of applying for, checking your Credit Report beforehand will give you a good idea of how a typical lender will view your application and help you verify that everything is as it should be.

You should aim to check your Credit Report at least two months before you are ready to apply in order to give yourself plenty of time to amend errors if you do spot any – they are rare but do happen.

If you’re applying for a mortgage, you need to be more vigilant still, keeping a close eye on what’s being reported both before and during your mortgage application and as your purchase progresses. Even last-minute credit checks before completion can throw up a late problem and so it’s important to stay on top of things.

This extra vigilance shouldn’t stop once you’ve got the keys to your new home. Making sure that your Credit Rating moves with you, and that you’re not left exposed to an increased risk of identity theft by leaving accounts active at your old address is an important exercise.

If you want to read a bit more on this, we’ve highlighted eight key occasions when your Credit Report can help you out during the house buying process.

If you’ve been a victim of fraud or want to guard against it

If you’ve fallen victim to identity fraud or fear that someone is targeting you, checking your Credit Report can be a vital first step in assessing what has happened and can help guard against it.

If someone has applied for credit in your name – even if it is not granted - you should see this information recorded in the form of an Application Search on your Credit Report. Any searches that you don’t recognise warrant further investigation.

If you have been targeted by fraudsters, you may wish to take out Protective Registration through Cifas (which costs £25 for 2 years), or add a Notice of Correction to your report, informing lenders that you may be at heightened risk of fraud following a case of identity theft. Both will prevent lending decisions from being processed automatically, which will delay any application you make yourself, but should give you added peace of mind.

If you’re waiting for information to be updated

If you’ve requested that a lender changes incorrect or outdated information on your Credit Report by way of a Notice of Dispute or Notice of Disassociation, don’t expect to see the change happen overnight.

Even if the lender agrees to update the data, it could take a couple of months for the change to be reflected on your report. That’s because most lenders typically only update their information once a month and Credit Reference Agencies (CRA’s) themselves can take a further month to update the information being reported.

Similarly, if you are waiting for adverse information such as a late payment or default to be removed automatically – which usually happens after six years – you need to bear in mind that it might not happen to the day.

The best way to check that information has been updated as you expected is to check for yourself. When the information on your Credit Report does change, it can have a significant effect on your creditworthiness – but the only way to know for sure is to check.

Check more than one Credit Reference Agency

When it comes to making sure you’ve got every base covered, it’s not just the ‘how often’ you should check your Credit Report that’s important, but the ‘where’.

That’s because each of the UK’s Credit Reference Agencies maintain and share information independently and have different relationships with different lenders. Whilst a lot of the information reported by each agency will be very similar, differences are commonplace.

The only way to see all of the data being reported by Equifax, Experian, TransUnion and Crediva in one place is with checkmyfile.

If you haven’t already, you can try checkmyfile free for 30 days, then for just £14.99 a month which can be cancelled online at any time, or by phone or email. You’ll get access to the UK’s most detailed Credit Report, with expert support and insight from our team of professionally-qualified Credit Analysts, should you need it.

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