What you should know about your credit profile

If you live in the UK, you can see your credit report by contacting one of the three major credit reference agencies (Equifax, Experian or Callcredit Check). Understanding what sort of entries ought to appear on your credit profile is important for assessing whether your details are accurate. Provided below is a summary of what information may or may not be made available by the credit reference agencies.

Insurance Searches and Salary Information Contrary to popular belief, insurance searches can appear on credit profiles. While this understandably causes concern and confusion among many people, the entries should not appear alongside details of creditors; indeed, they ought to be listed as mere notifications. This means that insurers have checked an applicant’s details without necessarily having assessed his or her credit score (although some insurers might do this for other reasons). Insurance searches are almost always intended to confirm an applicant’s identity.

Employers are not asked to update credit profiles with information relating to an individual’s salary. After all, why would this be necessary? Employers should not be given access to credit profiles, though they might reserve the right to credit-score those who apply for positions involving financial responsibility. While applications for credit will ask for details of income and expenditure, applicants are expected to be honest, which is why it is unnecessary – and in fact wholly undesirable – for employers to share salary details.

Financial Associations, Public Records and Fraud Checking a credit profile can reveal a few surprises. One of the biggest and most immediately upsetting is seeing the name of a partner appear on the list. Has your spouse been fiddling with your credit? Are you a victim of identity fraud? Probably not, at least with regards to the first question. Details of another person may appear on an individual’s credit profile if he or she has a relevant financial association.

A financial association can be declared voluntarily by an individual or it may be created automatically when a joint loan or credit card is taken out or a bank account opened. Creditors may check the profile of a financial associate to determine whether the applicant is creditworthy, but details from one profile should not leak on to the other.

Credit applicants should also be aware that their credit profiles may contain one or two nasties from the past. Bankruptcies, defaults, Individual Voluntary Arrangements (IVAs) and County Court Judgements (CCJs) can stay on file for up to six years, so nobody should be surprised to see such information if they have experienced serious debt problems in the past.

Entries that definitely ought not to appear on a credit profile are those belonging to someone else. Identity fraud has become a major crime in the UK, where thousands of people suffer serious problems after others gain access to their personal details. If a fraudulent entry is spotted on a credit profile, the credit reference agency and police should be contacted immediately. Cancelling credit and debit cards without delay can also help to contain the threat of identity fraud.

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