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Credit and Privacy: FAQ

By: Sarah Clark (ILEX) - Updated: 24 Aug 2012 | comments*Discuss
 
Credit Credit Reference File Lender

There are many misconceptions about credit, and the type of information that people hold about you, so it pays to ask a few pertinent questions if you’re in the dark about the subject.

What is the Credit Blacklist, and How Can I Find Out if I’m On It?

There’s no such thing as a credit black list. It’s not up to a credit reference agency to tell a lender whether or not to lend you money, they will all have their own criteria for doing so based on the level of financial risk that they think lending you money entails.

Some lenders use credit scoring to help them decide whether to lend you money. This means they rate every application on the same criteria and can treat every applicant fairly.

They can ask a credit reference agency for financial details, or base their decision purely on an application form, but they must ask you if they want to apply to see your credit file.

How Do I Get My Credit Reference File?

You have the legal right to write to any of the credit reference agencies and ask for a copy of your file, and they are allowed to charge you a fee of £2. Some of them let you see your records online, too. Write to them asking for a copy and giving them:
  • your full name and any names you’ve previously been known as
  • your date of birth
  • your full address and addresses you’ve lived at in the last six years
Keep a copy of the letter and send it recorded delivery as proof of posting. The credit reference agency then has seven days to reply with a copy of your file.

The Information On My Credit File is Wrong – What Can I Do?

So you’ve applied for a loan and been turned down, but you can’t think why. When you dig a bit deeper, you realise that there’s a mistake – a non-existent county court judgment has been registered in your name, or something that doesn’t relate to you has been applied to your record. If you don’t want to continue being refused credit, you need to take action.

Write to the lender you’ve applied to, and let them know there’s been a mistake on your credit file which you think may have affected your application. When a credit application is refused, this can also work against you in future credit applications, so you need to try and get the mistake amended as soon as possible.

Provide proof of where you think there’s been a mistake, if that’s possible. At the same time, contact the credit reference agency that has the incorrect information on file about you, and explain to them that they have the wrong information about you, again with as much proof as you can. They might ask you for more information before they send you your file to make sure that you are who you say you are – and also to ensure that nobody else has fraudulently applied for your credit reference file. They aren’t obliged to send your file until they get this information.

If you aren’t happy with the responses that you get from the lender or the credit reference agency, your next step is to contact the Information Commissioner’s Office, who might be able to take action against them under the terms of the Data Protection Act.

How Can I Complain About a Credit Reference Agency?

You can write to the Information Commissioner if you think that a Credit Reference Agency has breached the Data Protection Act. If you want to make a complaint, you can go to the website and complete a complaint form:

www.ico.gov.uk

You will need to include a copy of your recent credit file, a copy of any letters you’ve sent to the credit reference agency, and any evidence you’ve got that proves the information on your file is wrong.

Who Else Can Apply to See My Credit Reference File?

You are the only person who is allowed to access your full Credit Reference File. If a lender wants to check your credit history, they have limited access to run a credit check on your credit history but they must have a license to do this, and they have to get your consent first. This consent is often a box that you tick when you apply for credit. Nobody is allowed to access your credit reference report without your consent.

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