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Do you know your score?

When did you last check your credit report?

11th December 2017 | Cory Mosey

A number of UK adults aren’t fully aware of what their credit score is, or how it works, according to consumer research group Which?

Your credit score impacts on any loans or services you may be offered by financial institutions for things such as loans, mortgages and overdrafts and also from other providers for things such as mobile phone contracts. Consumers have been urged to regularly check what their rating is and and work on improving it. From the respondents to the survey, a staggering 53% said they had never checked their credit score or obtained a credit report. Furthermore, 77% of the people polled wrongly believed that banks and financial institutions had a “blacklist” which prevented consumers getting loans from anywhere.

A credit score is a measure of credit worthiness across financial institutions and impacts directly on the credit offered to consumers. Simply put, the higher your score, the more likely you are to be offered a mortgage, loan or credit card. If you continually pay off your debts on time and in full, this will be reflected positively with your credit score, however, on the flip side of this argument, people who consider themselves creditworthy because they have never had a loan or borrowed money in any form are equally at risk of having a poor score as somebody with a poor payment history. With all of this being said though, finance companies must take a subjective view of credit worthiness, they ultimately decide, not the credit reference agencies, who is right for their products.

What many people fail to realise is the role played by these little known credit institutions in whether consumers get a loan or not. Companies such as Experian and Equifax and newer services such as Noddle gather a multitude of data about almost all adults across the UK. Every time a payment for credit is made or an application for credit is made, these agencies take note and add it to their database. If people miss or are late in making a payment for gas, electricity or even a mobile phone, a note is sent automatically to the credit reference agencies. This data is then what goes toward our credit scores, with most companies working on a sliding scale of 0-999 depending on the company in question.

When credit is applied for, the bank or finance company contact the credit reference agencies for the information held against that person, although the decision will not rest solely on the credit rating or the payment history held by the credit reference agencies. Usually, everything works as it should with those who are creditworthy receiving credit, whilst those who may have a more patchy payment history will more than likely struggle. However, it isn’t unusual for errors to occur in a person’s credit report, late payments showing for a long closed agreement can mistakenly resurface. Failing to show on the electoral register can also impact the score negatively and as you would expect, any fraudulent activity which may have occurred against a consumer can also be detrimental if it isn’t rectified swiftly.

The point to take from all of the information above is that you should be aware of your credit score and ensure the data shown is up to date and accurate to ensure that you are represented in the best possible way for the next time you require a car, loan or mortgage. Because even though you never own the vehicle with a leasing contract, you are still credit checked to ensure that the contract is affordable for you and that you are creditworthy enough to take the contract.

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