Article by George Coburn - 3rd January 2020

When Information On Your Credit Report Is Wrong

One of the main benefits of keeping track of your Credit Report is that you are able to monitor exactly how your accounts are being reported to potential lenders, mobile phone providers, and utility suppliers (to name just a few). Whether the account information is correct or not, these companies are increasingly relying solely on computers to interpret your Credit Report and, when there is incorrect information, consumers face the potential of being declined for everyone’s least favourite reason – computer says ‘no’.

So what do you do when you’ve checked your Credit Report and there’s information showing that you believe to be incorrect?

How do I take wrong information off my Credit Report?

It is a bit of an urban myth that you can simply contact the Credit Reference Agency (CRA) and it will remove any information you request. The reason for this is that all account information on your Credit Report, irrespective of the CRA reporting it, is owned by the company that provided it – usually a creditor like bank or lender, but many different types of organisation report data nowadays. No amendment or removal can be completed by a CRA unless the source company that owns the information provides authorisation. It also means you and I can’t simply remove the bits we just don’t like.

This means that it is usually best to have incorrect information fixed at its source. The creditor may need to investigate the circumstances surrounding the disputed information and, by working with the company, you can provide your side of the story as to why the information should be amended. One example may be a payment being missed due to a Direct Debit not being set up correctly. The source organisation would have to see whether the late/missed payment on your Credit Report resulted because of a mistake it made itself. If it wasn’t the customer’s fault, then the organisation should be able to remove the late payment marker from the person’s Credit Report.

Organisations that report information to the CRAs will usually have procedures in place for when people question why their accounts aren’t being reported correctly so it is normally best to follow these. If you’re not happy with a lender’s decision, it will be able to advise you on how to escalate your dispute.

Information is provided to the Credit Reference Agencies typically on a monthly basis. Once received, the CRAs then need to apply the updates to the information they hold. This means that once an organisation reports new information, such as a different balance on an existing account, it often takes four to six weeks for the change to show on your Credit Report.

What if the company responsible for reporting the information won’t help?

When you have exhausted all avenues with the source company reporting the information, you can raise a dispute with the relevant Credit Reference Agency. CRAs have a statutory 28-day time frame to respond to dispute requests, so this is usually a matter of last resort. It’s worth remembering that CRAs can only amend information with the permission of the reporting organisation so escalating with the company responsible for reporting the data is usually the best initial approach.

If you dispute information with a CRA, it will then contact the creditor’s department responsible for sharing data with CRAs to request it validates the information on your Credit Report. As this involves two companies corresponding with each other, there can be quite substantial delays with queues on both ends. The reporting company will then get back in touch with the CRA and either confirm the entry on your Credit Report is correct or the CRA will amend it as per its instructions.

Often a note is added to your Credit Report during the dispute called a ‘Notice of Dispute’ which will inform other organisations checking your Credit Report that you are currently disputing information. These Notices can potentially hold up future applications as potential lenders are forced to read the message, meaning that the check can’t be completed automatically.

Contacting the CRAs may also be appropriate if there is information that you believe doesn’t belong to you on your Credit Report. If it doesn’t belong to you, you may find that contacting the CRA as the first port of call is the best course of action in this instance.

Can I add a Notice of Correction?

If you haven’t been able to remove information from your Credit Report or it was found to be correct, you are able to add a short note, known as a Notice of Correction.

Putting a Notice of Correction on your Credit Report should only be done if you believe it is essential and we generally advise not doing it. They tend to draw unnecessary attention to negative information to your Credit Report, meaning they can cause more harm than good. A potential lender checking your Credit Report also has to read the Notice before it can complete the credit check, meaning it can’t be completed automatically. This can cause delays in the application process with very little chance that it will be taken into account as part of the lending decision.

For this reason, we advise people to consider very carefully whether it is really worth adding a Notice of Correction.

One instance where adding a Notice is advisable is after identity theft. A Notice can be valuable during times where fraud has taken place as it can provide additional security for your Credit Report. For example, if a Notice is added advising potential lenders that you have been victim to identity theft, they can take extra measures to validate the identity of the applicant. You can even ask for a password to be included on the Notice, which needs to be provided during the application, to make your identity even more secure.

How do I check my Credit Report?

If you want to make sure your Credit Report is free from error, then you’ll need to check it for yourself.

You can try our Multi Agency Credit Report free for 30 days, then just £14.99 monthly, which you can cancel at any time online, by email, or freephone – whichever is easiest. You’ll have access to your full information from all four Credit Reference Agencies so you can be sure you’re seeing what lenders can see.

Updated on 03/01/2020 by Sam Griffin

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