Article by Jamie Mackenzie Smith - 31st August 2021

Can You Remove Negative Markers From Your Credit Report?

Your Credit Report is intended to show potential lenders, employers, landlords (and occasionally insurance providers) an accurate representation of what you are like when it comes to borrowing (and repaying) money and managing other credit agreements. Think of it as a CV of your borrowing history that gets updated on your behalf.

Because the information being reported about you is deemed to be an accurate representation of your past borrowing behaviour - without subjectivity - it can be understandably difficult to have it changed.

That said, if you do find something on your Credit Report that has been lodged in error, (though relatively rare, it does happen) it is possible to get it updated. First port of call though - if you haven't already, you should check what's being reported about you for yourself.

You can see what's held on your Credit Report at all four UK Credit Reference Agencies with checkmyfile. It's free for 30 days, then £14.99 a month and you can cancel at any time.

Why is it difficult to remove negative markers?

Data sharing for credit reporting in the UK is based on a system known as the Principles of Reciprocity. A bit of a mouthful it might be, but this establishes the framework for the recording, supply and access of credit reporting data via the UK’s Credit Reference Agencies. The core aim is to promote responsible lending, facilitated by lenders sharing credit account performance data (how you’ve repaid agreements) with each other. Only organisations that share information are able to access it to make lending decisions.

Lenders must ensure that the data they share via Credit Reference Agencies is as accurate as possible, meaning that other organisations using it to make a lending decision can put faith in its accuracy. Unless information has been lodged in error, there are very rarely grounds for it to be changed.

When can negative markers be removed?

In most cases, negative information can only be removed from your credit file if it is incorrect. While rare, errors do happen – and when it involves negative information such as late payment markers, it could potentially have a negative impact on your ability to get credit.

Often errors on your report take the form of spelling or other simple mistakes, but in extreme cases, you can end up with negative payment information that isn’t meant to be on your report at all. As lenders and Credit Reference Agencies have a legal obligation to make sure that the information on your account is accurate, you should find that they are quick to amend this information, especially if you can provide evidence to back up your claim.

How does negative information affect your credit report?

Negative information in the form of late payment markers tells prospective lenders that you’ve had issues keeping up with credit agreements in the past. Some negative information is more damaging than others and lenders will each have their own thoughts on whether or not they would still be happy to offer credit when the information is present.

For that reason, it’s difficult to say exactly how damaging negative markers are to your Credit Report, as it’s likely to vary greatly.

The same rule of thumb applies though – if you think something has been recorded incorrectly, don’t think that you’re powerless – there are steps you can take.

Removing negative markers

If you have negative markers that are inaccurate, you can do the following, or use our more in-depth guide to changing incorrect information on your credit file:

1. Gather any supporting evidence

If you have any paperwork related to any credit agreements that either shows you have settled an account, or have been making payments on time (this could include bank statements), make sure you have this, as it can be invaluable to supporting your claim.

2. Contact the lender reporting the marker

Even if you do not have any supporting evidence for your claim, your next step should be to contact the lender, explain exactly what you think is incorrect and ask them to amend it. Once it has had a chance to investigate and assuming it agrees an error has been made, the lender should contact any relevant Credit Reference Agency to ask them to update the records. It might take a few weeks, but once amended, should stop having a negative impact.

3. Contact the Credit Reference Agency reporting the marker

If the lender can’t or won’t amend the details on your file, the Credit Reference Agency where the information is being reported is your next port of call. You can lodge a Notice of Dispute, which forces the lender that lodged the information to look again and confirm to the Agency that the entry is correct. If it is unable to do so, the entry will be amended accordingly.

Can I get a Goodwill Adjustment?

If you’ve had problems with information appearing on your Credit Report in the past that you disagreed with, your subsequent online browsing might have thrown up something called ‘goodwill adjustments’- basically a term used to describe the concept of lenders removing minor, yet accurate negative markers that they are reporting to Credit Reference Agencies as a gesture of goodwill towards their customer. The phrase is more popularly used in the States, but the same concept applies over here.

There is no regulation surrounding these adjustments or specific criteria that need to be met before a lender agrees to remove a marker, but they may be more inclined to do so if you’re a longstanding customer that’s had a good payment history up to this point and you have a genuinely good reason for the late payment.

It’s worth noting that lenders may remove minor infractions such as missed payments from your report, but for more serious negative markers, such as Defaults and court information, lenders will not change their stance as the marker represents that the lender has serious issues trying to reclaim money owed in the past. If you ask a lender to remove a negative payment marker more serious than a missed payment as a gesture of goodwill, it’s incredibly unlikely to work.

Lenders are also unlikely to remove an Arrangement to Pay marker from your Credit Report on this basis, so it is important to check before making any adjustments to your monthly payments how it will be reported on your credit file. It’s always best to speak to a lender if you’re having trouble meeting repayments (rather than ignoring the problem and hoping it will go away) but don’t be surprised if some lenders take a very dim view of an Arrangement to Pay.

To make sure everything is as it should be with your own information, 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 at any time.

checkmyfile's Multi Agency Credit Report lets you see data from all four Credit Reference Agencies together, and if you spot anything you don’t agree with, you can ask us to challenge it on your behalf with just a few clicks.

Updated by Sam Griffin on 31 August 2021

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