How to check your credit record
Keeping your credit file in tip-top condition is a bit like servicing your car, if you don't look after them both then they will eventually let you down, when you least expect it. So if you are thinking about going on that journey of applying for credit, then make sure you service your credit file in time.
The first step is to get hold of your report from Equifax, Call Credit or Experian (all of which will offer you access to an online report for £2) and tidy up or remove default notices and wrong information.
What is a default notice?
A default notice is something that a lender puts on your credit file if you fall behind with your payments. When you borrow money from any financial institution you usually sign an agreement and in the terms and conditions of this agreement you give the financial institution permission to inform the credit reference agency if you miss or are late with a payment.
Also, before a debt can be sold on, the lender has to demonstrate that they have tried to contact you and keep the payments going. Once you have two default notices against you then the debt can be sold on. The default notice has nothing to do with a county court; it merely alerts future lenders that you have not kept up with the payments.
How to remove the default notice
If a lender sees a default notice on your credit file then they are less likely to lend to you or will increase the interest rate. However there are several ways you can have a default notice removed, you will have to be patient and persistent but it is worth a try.
If any of these points apply it's worth contacting the lender and asking them to remove the notice:
- The loan has now been repaid in full
- You have come to a new arrangement to repay the loan
- The payments are now up to date and you are no longer in default
- You can demonstrate that the default was placed incorrectly on your credit file.
If the lender agrees to your request then ask them to confirm this in writing on their letterhead. Some lenders may charge a small administration fee for the additional work.Send a copy of this letter to one of the credit reference agencies and ask them to update your file.
What if the information on your credit file is incorrect?
If the information is correct you cannot expect them to change it simply because it is embarrassing. However if it is factually incorrect you can ask them to do the following:
- Write to the agency asking it to either remove or change the entry that you think is wrong.
- Within 28 days from receipt of your letter the agency should tell you that it has either removed or changed the entry or taken no action.
Notice of Correction
If you are unhappy with the response or would just like to explain the information on your file you can send a Notice of Correction. This is a statement of up to 200 words that will be added to your file as long as it isn't defamatory, frivolous or incorrect. Again the agencies have 28 days to respond.
If still no action, resend the Notice of Correction. If information is amended the agency must send details to any lender who has enquired about you in the last six months.
If an agency declines your Notice of Correction it must refer to The Information Commissioner