Looking after your credit report is extremely important, so we’re breaking it down for you into simple, bite-size chunks. First of all, how often should you check it?
Making sure you have a clean bill of health when it comes to your credit report is vital, but how often should you be checking where you stand?
As part of our new series, Credit Made Simple, we’re bringing you the first installment covering all the basics when it comes to checking your credit report.
Report vs score
First things first, what do we mean when we say credit report and credit score, and which should you be checking? The simple answer is both. Your credit score will give you a quick indication of how you’re doing, whereas your credit report will give you the full details, including supplier names, so it’s important that you keep an eye on both.
Whose report and score should I trust?
There are three main credit reference agencies in the UK; Experian, Equifax and TransUnion. So whose report should you be keeping tabs on?
All of them. Most lenders will use all three or a combination to make their lending decisions, so knowing where you stand with all three is useful. You could have a perfect score with one and not another, which could give you unrealistic expectations when it comes to what rate you could get.
When should I check your credit reports and scores?
1. Annual review
As a general rule of thumb, you should be giving your report and score a thorough review at least once a year. Checking on a regular basis will ensure you notice if anything seems awry.
If you have a CIFAS marker on, that could indicate that you’re seen as a high risk for fraud or identity theft, so you may choose to check more regularly if that’s the case.
2. Before an application
You’ll also want to check your reports and scores before you make an application for credit, whether that’s to buy a new sofa or a mortgage. Making sure everything is in order should stop any hiccups, and checking your current status will set your expectations when it comes to the sort of deal you might be able to get.
3. After an application
If you make a number of credit applications around the same time, you might want to keep an eye on your score. It could reduce slightly in the short term, but it should recover relatively quickly.
4. When an agreement ends
A missed payment can be bad news, so when an agreement or contract ends, make sure that no incorrect missed payments have been logged.
5. Before applying for a job
Some employers will run a credit check during the recruitment process, so it’s always worth a quick check before you send that application, just in case there’s anything you need to address beforehand.
Hitachi Top Tip: Don’t worry about over checking – only you will know.
What am I looking for?
Everyone tells you to keep an eye on your credit file, but you may be unsure what you’re supposed to be looking for.
Firstly, check for incorrectly recorded missed payments, as they could cost you a good deal later down the line.
Make sure that all recorded credit applications are ones you’ve done. If there’s anything you don’t recognise, it could be a sign that you’ve been a victim of fraud/identity theft.
Finally, make sure that all of your personal information is correct and up-to-date. Making sure you’re on the electoral register at your current address can help lenders identify you more easily, so don’t forget to update.
Looking for ways to improve your score? Check out our helpful video.
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