The cost-of-living crisis has led to millions of people taking a cold hard look at their finances and cutting back. Yet making ends meet is only part of the problem. Thousands of people complain to Resolver every year about their credit files and how credit scores work, which is one of the most common questions our users ask us.
Most credit reference agency complaints actually come down to the business that has placed ‘markers’ on the file, not the agency itself. The excellent news is sorting out a problem doesn’t have to be a nightmare – and you can usually take it further too if the business isn’t playing ball. Make a complaint through Resolver for free at www.resolver.co.uk
There are actually a lot of modern urban myths out there about your credit reference file, so here’s what to believe – and what to ignore.
The most common credit file myth is that there is a ‘blacklist’ featuring people who are barred from credit forever (or for a long time). Luckily there’s no such thing.
Lenders make decisions based on the information on your credit report, your application form details and any account information they already have. Even if things have gone a little awry in the past, then you could still be accepted but you’re likely to be offered lower credit limits and higher interest rates.
The biggest blocker to credit is County Court Judgments, bankruptcy and Individual Voluntary Arrangements (IVAs) – and even they are not forever.
Are you looking at your partner or flatmate and blaming them because you got turned down for a credit card?
Don’t take it out on them.
Credit reports these days are individual, and only contain your personal information. Living with someone doesn’t mean your credit reports will be linked or have any impact on each other unless you’ve applied for joint credit together.
Being in a relationship doesn’t mean your credit report, or finances, are linked.
The only way to link your credit reports is if you’ve applied for joint credit together in the past, for example for a bank account, loan or mortgage. If you have previously taken out credit with someone, but don’t share any joint accounts now, you can ask for a ‘financial disassociation’ with all the credit reference agencies.
However, joint accounts, investments and credit can leave you liable for debts as an individual if your relationship breaks down. This is known as ‘joint and several liability’. Bear in mind that unless your accounts in credit are ‘two to sign’ the other party can potentially empty the accounts. Make sure you understand the repercussions before signing up for joint agreements.
This is a common myth, especially when people are living in rented accommodation.
Much like the current people you live with, previous occupants of your address do not have any impact on your finances or your credit report. There may still be letters that come to the address, so all you need to do is write on the front they don’t live there and stick them back in the post box.
Checking your credit report doesn’t affect your score. Instead, it shows up on your report as a ‘soft’ search each time you check, but this is only seen by you, and nobody else.
You can check your report and score as often as you like, which is usually a good idea before you apply for credit. ‘Soft’ checks are often used by some businesses as a way to see if you might get credit.
However, ‘hard’ checks, created by you applying for credit, stay on your file for up to 12 months and can have an impact on your score if you collect too many.
There is no universal credit score. Each of the three main credit reference agencies will give you a different score on a different scale. Of course, the higher this is with each agency the better.
Do keep an eye on these scores and, from time to time, the data in the reports used to calculate them.
If you need help with sorting out a problem with your credit score and want to take it further, you can make a complaint through Resolver for free at www.resolver.co.uk.