This blog post has been contributed by Experian
There are a surprising number of myths and misconceptions surrounding the world of credit checks and credit scores. These can sometimes be damaging, if people make bad decisions about their finances as a result.
One of the most widespread of these is the notion that you, or your address, can be blacklisted. In truth, no such thing exists.
It’s lenders that make the decision whether or not to give credit. Most of them will take the information held by credit reference agencies like Experian, which is compiled on your credit report, to help them calculate a credit score using their own factors.
Lenders are, however, interested in your repayment history and how much you already owe – as they want to be comfortable that you’ve been a reliable manager of credit in the past, so that you can manage the credit they give you and that you’re likely to take credit and pay it back under the terms agreed.
This is where your credit report comes into it, as it contains a history of the credit you’ve had, from mobile phone accounts to mortgages and more, and gives lenders a snapshot of how well you are coping with your finances.
Can addresses be blacklisted? Credit checks are made on people, not addresses – so you wouldn’t be linked to anyone you’ve shared an address with, or that previously lived at your home, unless you’ve made a joint credit application with them in the past. It won’t matter even if they were a multi-millionaire or if they owed millions of pounds, if you didn’t share a bank account, it can’t be recorded!
Checking Your Credit Report
Many people also believe that checking their own credit report will damage their credit rating. This is not the case, and in fact if there’s any impact it’s likely to be positive – as you may identify information or behaviour you can change to improve your credit score in the future.
No Credit History
One other myth is that if you’ve never borrowed, you’ll be best placed to get credit. This is not true, as without a credit history to go on, lenders are unable to estimate how reliable you’ll be in the future. Even just a few well-managed credit cards or accounts – like a mobile phone or a store card – could be helpful.
What factors ARE taken into account then?
To give yourself the best chance of getting the credit you’re after, here are some of the factors lenders are likely to look at, and the best steps to take:
- Paying your credit bills on time and staying within your credit limits can only be a good thing. Missed or late payments stay on your credit report for at least six years, and this can have a big impact on your score.
- Long-standing credit accounts can help, so it’s best not to keep chopping and changing your accounts too frequently.
- Likewise, if you apply for credit too often, lenders will see lots of applications recorded on your credit report in a short space of time, and they might think that you’re in financial trouble or suspect a fraud.
- Are you registered to vote at your current address? Lenders use the electoral register to help confirm who you are and where you live – all you have to do is go to https://www.gov.uk/register-to-vote and follow the simple steps.
- The information on your credit report needs to be accurate and up to date, as if your address is recorded incorrectly it could have a significant impact. So checking your credit report regularly can help you identify if anything needs attention. Likewise, it’s worth checking for signs of unusual or irregular activity that could indicate identity fraud.
The Experian Credit Score is a guide to help you understand your credit report, and how the way you’ve managed the credit you’ve had in the past might affect applications you’re making now, and can give you an indication of what kind of loan you might get.
By Darren Beach, Experian Consumer Advice Experian Experts blog