Your credit record
Credit card companies share past data about customers, as allowed by law, with the credit reference agencies. So you need to be completely truthful on applications or you may risk breaking the law.
Credit reference agencies hold credit files that contain a mixture of public and private information on individuals. Upon receiving your application lenders will check your credit record for information to confirm that you are both willing and able to pay your existing debts. They will then assess whether you can handle the additional credit that you have applied for.
The credit card industry nowadays shares more details on credit card holders’ behaviour relating to the use of cash advances and the making of minimum repayments. Such behaviour can be an indicator that a customer is struggling financially, and can therefore be helpful to lenders in making lending decisions.
Checking your credit record
You have the right to check your credit record and to have it corrected if it contains any information that is wrong. You can only do this by contacting any of the three main credit reference agencies in the UK. Experian, Equifax and CallCredit.
When you receive your credit record, carefully check the information in it for accuracy and correctness. There are certain items in particular that you should watch out for:
- Check that there are no addresses on your credit record that you have no connection with. If you have been linked to an address that you have no connection with then contact the company that created the link and ask for the address link to be deleted.
- Check that your credit report shows the correct dates between which you have lived at current or past addresses.
- If you have paid off a credit account and it is not shown on your credit report as settled then contact the company from which you received the credit and ask them to make the necessary changes.
- If you see that a company has searched your credit report more than once in response to a single application then contact the company to which you made the application and ask it to make amendments to reflect that it was a single application.
- If there is financial information on your credit report that links you to other people with whom you have no financial connection then ask the credit reference agency to remove the information from your report. It is possible that other members of your household are recorded on your credit report and this could affect your credit rating. All credit reference agencies will make this change for you if you do not share a financial connection with the other people, such as outstanding joint accounts
- If you have a County Court Judgement that you believe has been incorrectly registered then contact the court in question.
- If there is a Bankruptcy Order on your credit report that has been annulled or discharged, send a copy of the Order of Discharge or Annulment to all credit reference agencies and ask for your report to be updated.
What if your credit card application is declined?
Most credit card companies have an appeals process if an application is declined, you should contact the card company and ask them for details if you need to do this.
There are many reasons why they may refuse you credit and they should tell you the reason. Their decision could be based on the credit score, information from your credit record or because you fall outside their rules for lending. If they tell you that the information was based on a credit report then ask them for the name and address of the credit reference agency used.
You can request a copy of your credit file from the credit reference agency specified. Although this may not always clarify why your application has been declined it is a good starting point.
Getting a copy of your credit file from each of the three credit reference agencies will cost you £2 for each request. Your credit file will provide a detailed record of your borrowing. Included on your record are details of your past repayment history, any County Court Judgements (CCJs) or defaults registered against you, electoral roll details and previous credit searches made.