The Scottish Mail on Sunday

Need a loan? Then take a look at your credit file first

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EV­ERY­ONE has a le­gal right to see their credit file – go­ing back up to six years.

It is wise to do this well be­fore ap­ply­ing for a mort­gage, or any type of credit or loan. This is so that any ad­verse data or mis­takes can be cor­rected well in ad­vance.

It can take up to a month to up­date. If a fraud­u­lent ap­pli­ca­tion for credit has been made in your name, this will also be flagged.

To ob­tain a credit his­tory for free on­line, Ex­pe­rian – the largest agency – has a free Credit Matcher ser­vice. Nod­dle.co.uk (part of Call­credit) and Clearscore.com (which uses Equifax data) both of­fer data for free on­line.

Those with­out ac­cess to the in­ter­net can get their statu­tory credit file by post from Call­credit, Ex­pe­rian and Equifax for £2 each.

It is a good idea to check the in­for­ma­tion held with all three agen­cies as they may hold data from dif­fer­ent fi­nan­cial providers.

Jac­que­line Dewey, man­ag­ing di­rec­tor at Nod­dle, says con­sumers should view their credit file like a fi­nan­cial pass­port. She says: ‘This is the data used to make im­por­tant fi­nan­cial de­ci­sions which af­fect your life, such as a new mort­gage, car loan or mo­bile phone con­tract. You want to be sure ev­ery­thing on there is cor­rect and also that your file – and credit score – is in the best pos­si­ble shape.’

Agen­cies also of­fer ex­tra ser­vices, typ­i­cally for a monthly fee of about £15, such as Equifax’s Credit Re­port and Score and Ex­pe­rian’s Cred­itEx­pert. Nod­dle Alerts and Web Watch costs £30 a year. Th­ese types of ser­vice alert you when there are changes made to your credit file or searches are made in your name. Only sign up to the fee charg­ing ser­vice if you un­der­stand what you are get­ting. Do not be lured in by a ‘free’ ini­tial of­fer.

Any mis­takes must be first pointed out with the bank or lender that gave the data to the credit ref­er­ence agency.

If the fi­nan­cial provider agrees the in­for­ma­tion is in­cor­rect – or if a credit ap­pli­ca­tion was made fraud­u­lently in your name – this will be changed or re­moved within 28 days.

The agen­cies can­not re­move data which the lender says is cor­rect. But con­sumers may be able to add a ‘no­tice of cor­rec­tion’ for fu­ture lenders about a par­tic­u­lar is­sue on their file. For ex­am­ple, that a mort­gage pay­ment was missed be­cause of an un­ex­pected re­dun­dancy.

 ??  ?? AD­VICE: Jac­que­line Dewey says your credit file is like a pass­port
AD­VICE: Jac­que­line Dewey says your credit file is like a pass­port

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