Article by Sam Griffin - 28th January 2020

Which Credit Reference Agency Does My Bank Use?

Knowing which Credit Reference Agency (or agencies) your bank has a relationship with gives you a bit more insight into who it’s sharing your data with – as well as helping you know which of your Credit Reports will be inspected if you apply for another product with that bank.

But identifying which banks, lenders, mobile phone suppliers etc. use which Credit Reference Agencies can be tricky, especially as organisations can use more than one CRA at the same time.

Monzo for example, a digital-only neobank which launched in 2015, now with over 3 million users, has confirmed it has recently begun sharing customers’ account information with Experian.

The modern account provider already shares information with the Credit Reference Agency TransUnion, so the inclusion of Experian means Monzo can access either CRA’s database when it comes to credit checking their potential customers, or even both at the same time.

What type of data will be shared?

As is routine with many banks and lenders, Monzo has already been sharing customer’s information with a Credit Reference Agency. It’s now simply agreed to share data with Experian in addition to TransUnion, although it may be some time before the process is fully up and running.

From the mouth of Monzo: ‘Although we’ve started sharing information with Experian, it’ll take a month or two for Monzo to appear on your Experian Credit Report. Experian are working with the data we’re sending them, checking it’s what they expect to see and making sure your experience is a smooth one before they start showing it in their reports.’

Up until now, Monzo has shared customers’ account information with TransUnion. This included the account type - whether it’s an overdraft facility or loan - the balance, the credit limit, and whether payments are made on time or not.

If you bank with Monzo, you can expect your Monzo account details to appear on your Experian Credit Report in a couple of months. As is standard practice for Credit Reporting, the shared data should be backdated to the account’s start date or last six years, rather than the account appearing to have started recently. Given that Monzo has only been offering overdraft facilities since 2018 and loans for even less time, the amount of information that can show on your Credit Report is limited, but as more and more customers sign up, the bank offers more products, and time passes, the amount of information being shared will also grow.

Why do organisations share data with the Credit Reference Agencies?

When you take out a new credit agreement, like a loan or credit card, it is likely that the bank or lender will share the account information with at least one of the UK’s Credit Reference Agencies. The account’s repayment history will be shared, along with the balance, credit limit, and utilisation, with the CRAs for the full duration that the account is open, and then held for six years.

You will have given your lender permission to share your information, usually in the terms and conditions of the agreed application. That’s why Monzo is able to announce it’s sharing customers’ information with another organisation. When a lender (or any organisation) shares information like this, it will be because it has a Reciprocal Data Sharing agreement with the relevant Credit Reference Agency.

From lenders and banks to mobile phone providers and utility suppliers and everything in between, these companies enter into data sharing agreements with the CRAs for one main purpose: so they can access and inspect their applicants’ Credit Reports in order to improve the quality of its lending decisions.

A Reciprocal Data Sharing agreement means, in practice, that if a lender shares account information (like balance, status, credit limit etc.) with a Credit Reference Agency, the lender can then access the CRA’s vast database of customer information that has been shared by other organisations to aid with its own credit checking process. By viewing someone’s Credit Report, the lender can determine their customer’s creditworthiness, establish that their identity is genuine, and ensure that it can make a fully informed, responsible lending decision.

The truth is that the CRAs have Reciprocal Data Sharing agreements with many types of organisations, so it’s often not possible to point to one lender and say with absolute certainty which dataset will be checked.

Which Credit Reference Agency do most lenders use?

As time has moved on, the market place has changed too, along with the Credit Reference Agencies. Comparatively to Callcredit (the former name of TransUnion UK) which launched relatively recently in 2000, Equifax and Experian are near-ancient entities.

Experian’s own roots take it back to 1960s America, while Equifax is even older, having witnessed the First World War, founded in 1899 as a US retail credit company. They’re both vastly different organisations nowadays, but the strong foundations they’ve built have yielded reputations as reliable market leaders in Credit Reporting. Established, well recognised banks and lenders that have been marketplace staples for ages have working-relationships with Equifax and Experian that are now decades old. A newcomer to the CRA scene, like early 2000s Callcredit, naturally faced a high barrier to entry into the marketplace.

To surmount this obstacle, Callcredit welcomed and set up reciprocal data sharing agreements with a great influx of new finance companies. Fintechs and start-ups that didn’t have the established relationships with Equifax and Experian could look to Callcredit for their data sharing needs – which is precisely what Monzo did.

Nowadays TransUnion (which acquired Callcredit in 2018) has built a presence that rivals that of Equifax and Experian, so the number of organisations sharing exclusively with just one CRA is shrinking. It’s now common for lenders, mobile phone providers and utility suppliers to share information with more than one CRA, perhaps even Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. Monzo now sharing information with two CRAs supports this trend.

How do I check which Credit Reference Agencies my bank uses?

It’s highly likely that the three CRAs that hold account data – Equifax, Experian, TransUnion – all hold information in your details, but this doesn’t mean their records will be identical. In practice, there will likely be some accounts held by one or two CRAs and some that aren’t held at all.

The only way to know for certain what information the CRAs are holding is to check your Credit Report at each of them so you can see the information for yourself. Thankfully, checkmyfile makes this process hassle free.

Our Multi Agency Credit Report is the most detailed in the UK, having complete information from all three Credit Reference Agencies, so you can compare the information from one CRA directly with another – all on one easy-to-use format.

You can try checkmyfile free for 30 days, then just £14.99 per month which you can easily cancel online at any time.

Our professionally qualified, UK based Credit Analysts are on hand if you need guidance with part of your Credit Report.

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