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Where does your credit report come from

Where Does Your Credit Report Come From?

If you’re reading this article, you more than likely know that your credit report exists, and may have a good idea of what’s in it, too. But, where all that different information about you comes from, and how it ends up in one place for you to look at it, is a whole other kettle of fish.

So, let’s answer the question: where does your credit report come from?

But first, let’s hop back to the beginning: what is a credit report?

You probably already have a good idea of what your credit report is, and the clue’s in the name. Your credit report is a document that sums up six years’ worth of your history of using credit. And so again, as the name suggests, you have to have used credit in some form to have a credit report, in most cases.

Your credit report is put together in four main sections: your personal details, your accounts, the credit searches that have been carried out on you, and any information held about you in public databases. This means your credit report will include:

  • Your name
  • Your date of birth
  • Your address history
  • Whether or not you’re registered to vote and your registration history
  • Details of accounts you have (or have had in the last six years) and whether you’ve kept up with payments on them
  • Details of any county court judgements (CCJs) that have been filed against you
  • Bankruptcies
  • Records of companies who have requested a copy of your report and why

Who puts together credit reports?

As you can see from this list, that’s quite a bit of information about you, and someone has to gather it up and put it together.  This “someone” is an organisation called a credit reference agency. There are three main credit reference agencies in the UK – Equifax, Experian and TransUnion – although you might come across a few smaller ones occasionally. Their main job is to collect up the information we’ve talked about from various sources, and then share it when it’s requested by you, or a company who has a good reason to be asking for it, such as if you’ve applied for a loan with them.

If you get your credit report through us here at CredAbility, then it’s worth knowing that we’re not one of those smaller credit reference agencies. We’re classed as a “credit information service”, which means we’ve partnered with a credit reference agency – Equifax – to share their version of your credit report with you. But, where are they collecting all this information about you from?

Creditors

Lots of the information that goes into your credit report comes from your creditors, or, in normal-person speak, the companies you have accounts with, or have borrowed from.

When you apply for credit or open a new financial account, then you’ll usually share quite a bit of your personal information, like your name, date of birth and address history in the application form. The company you’re applying with will then use the details you’ve provided to request a copy of your credit history so that they can check your eligibility to borrow or open an account with them, and will also add a record of their check to your file. This may be a “hard” search record, which other companies you apply with can see, or it might be a “soft” search, which is only visible to you.

If you’re successful in opening an account and borrowing the money you need, then the company will also provide regular monthly updates to a credit reference agency on the status of your account. As well as the personal details about you that your account is registered under, they’ll share how much you’ve borrowed, what your credit limit is (if you have one), and if you’re keeping on top of your payments. If you don’t pay back what you’ve borrowed, then they’ll share that, too, and can place defaults on your credit report.

Debt collection agencies

If you don’t pay back what you’ve borrowed from a lender, then they could decide to transfer your account to a debt collection agency. Just as the company you originally had an account with provided regular updates for your credit report, so will the debt collection agency. They will usually search your credit report when they’re setting up your account with them, and then will provide monthly updates on the status of your debt until either you pay it back, or it’s been so long since the debt was incurred that they can’t legally chase you for it any more.

Public records

We mentioned earlier that your credit report includes information about if you’re registered to vote, and at what address, and if you’ve had any CCJs filed against you. This information comes from publicly accessible databases: the Electoral Roll, and the Register of Judgements, Orders and Fines. As you might expect, the Electoral Roll contains the details of everyone who’s registered to vote in the UK, and the address they’re registered to vote at. Lenders use it as an easy way to verify your identity. The Register of Judgements, Orders and Fines contains details of any CCJs that have been filed in your name, IVAs, which are a debt solution, and if you’ve been made bankrupt. Having any of these things in your name would be a big red flag to lenders as they indicate that you’ve had some trouble managing what you’ve borrowed, so they’re a very important part of your credit report.

You!

To have a credit report in the first place, it starts with you, and something you’ve done, like registering to vote, or applying for a loan or credit card. When you do these things, you usually share quite a bit of your personal information like your name, address history, and date of birth. Because these organisations share information with credit reference agencies, they will pass your details along. If a credit reference agency already has other information about you, they’ll add these new details to the file. If not, they’ll create a new file in their database.

The other way you can provide information that gets included in your credit report is if you request to have a Notice of Correction added to your credit report. These short statements are used if you raise a query or dispute the accuracy of any information that’s held in your credit report, or request to add a note that explains something that isn’t necessarily incorrect, but that gives a misleading impression of you and your ability to repay what you borrow. For example, if you have missed payments in your credit report, but they were caused by you enduring a long spell in hospital due to illness, then this would be a good reason to have a Notice of Correction added to your report.

Why does some of my information not show up in my credit report?

Sometimes, you might find that information you were expecting to see in your credit report isn’t there. And, there can be a few reasons for this:

  • It’s not meant to appear. Some accounts you have don’t show up on your credit report, and it’s correct that they’re not included. Savings accounts, current accounts without an overdraft, and insurance policies where you pay for the year up front (rather than in monthly instalments) will all be excluded from your credit report
  • The company doesn’t report to your chosen credit reference agency. As we said earlier, there are three main credit reference agencies in the UK, and some companies only share information with one or two of them, and this is down to their choice rather than anything about the quality of the credit reference agency. We recommend getting your report from each of the different credit reference agencies, or tools powered by them, so that you always have the most complete view of your information.
  • It’s too new! It can take a bit of time for new information to filter through to your credit report. Registering on the electoral roll, for example, takes up to 60 days to appear in your credit report. Likewise, changes to your accounts, such as opening a new account, if you get a credit limit increase on your credit card, or pay off a loan in full, can take a couple of months to filter through. So, if you registered to vote or paid a bill last week, don’t expect it to be reflected in your credit report immediately!

I’m seeing information that doesn’t belong to me in my report – why?

If you’re seeing information in your credit report that doesn’t belong to you – such as addresses you’ve never lived at, or accounts that aren’t yours – then this comes down to the credit reference agency that’s put your report together. As you’ve seen from reading this, they get their information from all sorts of different places. Each source has their own way of sending information, and the credit reference agencies have to decipher it and then decide which person’s file it belongs in. Sometimes, they don’t get it quite right, and if you have very similar details to someone else – usually a family member, but not always – then they can get you muddled up. But, it’s easy enough to set this right by raising a dispute about the information that doesn’t belong to you. Find out more about how to do this in our guide.

Not got your fill of credit reports yet? Debunk some credit report myths with us, or see if you could boost your credit score!

 

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