Your Credit History Explained
Updated: Feb 8
Your credit history is information about your past financial behavior.
Lenders use your credit history to measure how risky you might be to lend to.
Here are some tips to help improve yours.
Why Check Your Credit Score
It is important to check your credit score as it gives you a clear view of what lenders see about you when you make credit applications. You can avoid the shock of being rejected for credit by understanding how lenders may see you before you apply. As you improve your credit score, you’ll have a better chance of getting credit at lower rates and can access better deals.
We encourage all of our members to check their credit report regularly, especially when they are applying for credit.
As part of the checks we complete when assessing loan applications we will check your credit report. Even small errors can cause problems, so it's important you check through it. You can easily check your credit report – and you can do so for free! Follow the link below to the Money Saving Expert website where you can find out more on checking your credit score. Check your credit score & report for free - MSE (moneysavingexpert.com)
If you find errors on your credit report
There are a range of errors that could be in your credit report. Incorrect information could be included, or accurate information might be missing.
For example, it could show a missed bill payment that you paid on time, or you could have a credit card but the credit card's activity is not being recorded, giving the impression that you have no financial history.
Check that your previous addresses are correct and that your electoral roll information tallies.
Fraudulent activity can also impact on your credit score. If somebody has used your credit card without your knowledge, this could affect your credit score if you do not resolve the issue immediately.
If your bank makes an error that affects your finances, such as displaying the wrong amount of money in your account, this could damage your credit score, especially if they take some time to fix it.
If you received a County Court Judgment (CCJ) and settled it within the required time (usually within 1 month), it should not appear on your record. However, the register or one of the credit reference agencies might make an administrative error or many not have received the payment information from the creditors.
It's worth noting, however, that these types of errors are rare. Even so, it's important to check your credit report, as the consequences could be severe if an error has been sitting there for a long time.
If you do find an error in your credit report, it's important to dispute discrepancies quickly:
First you should contact the provider or creditor the error was associated with. So if your credit card company recorded that you missed a payment and you want to dispute that, call up the credit card company.
You should have evidence of the error, so any receipts or statements proving the error.
If the company agrees that it was an error, they have to update their records within a one-month period, and this update goes out to the credit reference agency.
However, if the company says that they have no record of the error and everything is correct on their side, then speak to the credit reference agency.
The credit reference agency will then review the error and make the relevant changes after an investigation into the dispute.
You should then also check your credit report with the other credit reference agencies to ensure that they too do not have the same error.
If your dispute goes unresolved after the investigation, then you're allowed to write a 200-word statement explaining your side of the story, which will then be saved alongside the disputed information.
This will not improve your credit score, but it will allow future creditors to consider this statement before judging your application.
County Court Judgments (CCJ)
If you find you have a County Court Judgment (CCJ) and don't know what it relates to or where it came from, you need to make a note of the case/claim number relating to the CCJ on your credit file as well as which County Court issued the judgement.
The next step is to contact the County Court that issued the judgement and give them the case/claim number. They will then be able to give the details of who the debt is with. Usually, it is Northampton County Court who process CCJ applications. The number for Northampton county court is 0300 123 1056.
For further advice on how to manage these judgements you can speak with the Debt Advice team at StepChange . You can call them on 0800 138 1111 Monday to Friday from 8am to 8pm and Saturday from 8am to 4pm.
You can also read more about how to manage a CCJ on the Stepchange website here: https://www.stepchange.org/debt-info/ccj.aspx
Top Tips to Help Prevent Identity Fraud
Check your credit report
It is recommended that you check your credit report regularly to spot any unfamiliar accounts or inexplicable debts immediately.
Shred or destroy documents containing personal information
Not just bank statements, anything showing your name, address and account or policy number could be enough to help someone steal your identity. Invest in a home document shredder, and use it.
Check your statements for anything unusual
Look through your bank and credit card statements thoroughly for any suspicious transactions and report them at once.
Report missing documents
If important documents like your passport or driving licence are lost or stolen, report it to the relevant organisation immediately.
Watch out for phishing scams
Phishing emails, phone calls and texts claiming to be from one of your providers or even your bank will ask you for personal details like account numbers, PINs or password. No credible organisation would ask for this information so you shouldn't ever answer.
Don't give away too much personal information on social networking websites
If you use personal information as part of a personal password or log-in security question (mother’s maiden name, pet or children’s names or dates of birth etc) this could leave you vulnerable to identity fraud if it can easily be found on your social media pages.
Make sure you're registered to vote at your current address
Thieves could use your previous address details to get credit, and run up debts in your name. Being registered to vote where you currently live would prevent this.
Redirect your mail via Royal Mail
It's best to do this for at least a year if you move house so that your post can't get into the wrong hands. Moving house is a big cause of identity theft.
Never share your account details
Do not tell your PIN or passwords to anyone, no matter how much you trust them. And don't write them down anywhere either.
Monitor your post
If you don't receive important documents in the post when you were expecting them you should act straight away (particularly watch this in flats where you share a letterbox). Contact the sender and tell them that you haven't received your documents.