Use this page to find essential information about credit reports and credit reporting agencies.
For more information about some of the terms like credit reporting agencies we use, click on the highlighted words or see our credit report glossary.
Credit reports are a record of how you have managed credit in the past. They are collated by credit reference agencies, which use information supplied by both current and previous lenders on what kinds of credit you have used, in what amounts and how you have handled repayments to compile a credit report.
When you apply for credit, potential lenders will want to find out whether you will be able to repay the debt.
In addition to the information on your application, one tool they will use to decide whether or not you are a reliable borrower is your credit report.
The credit report is provided by credit reporting agencies such as Experian and Equifax, who collect details from financial providers to assess your credit rating.
Your credit report contains a wide range of information to help lenders avoid identity fraud and determine whether you can be relied upon to repay a debt: These include:
Your current and previous addresses.
Any aliases you've had.
The names of financial associates, including people you hold joint accounts or mortgages with.
Information on your credit accounts, such as the number of loans, mortgages and credit cards you have and whether you have made your repayments on time.
A list of everyone who has accessed your credit report within the last year.
Fraud warnings, if someone else has previously tried to use your information to apply for credit.
Information from the Gone Away Information Network (GAIN), if you have moved without giving a forwarding address to your lenders.
Information on your credit agreements and financial associates comes from the lenders themselves.
Some lenders only share details of missed repayments and other negative information. Others share positive information as well, including if you have made regular repayments.
The additional information on your credit report comes from public records, including the Electoral Roll and County Court records.
Credit reporting agencies compile this information to give you your credit score and report.
You can order a copy of your credit report from a credit reporting agency. The main credit reporting agencies are Experian, Equifax and TransUnion.
These agencies offer the option of ordering a hard copy of your statutory credit report through the post or viewing your credit report online.
Online credit report packages often include additional services and advice to help you understand and improve your credit.
The statutory credit report £2 fee might be enough to deter you from getting a 30-day free trial and the subsequent monthly fee when getting an Experian credit check or an Equifax credit report.
However, the credit report for £2 is your statutory report, meaning that it cannot show you all of the information that other credit reference agencies can, nor does it update live, meaning you need to pay for a £2 credit report each time you want to see any updates.
The charge for a copy of your statutory credit report is £2. You can order the statutory credit report through the credit reporting agencies and it will be sent to you in the post.
Online credit report packages, like Experian's CreditExpert service, allow you to view your statutory credit report online.
The company also offers a free 30-day trial of its service. Online packages often include advice on improving your credit rating and support in understanding your credit report.
They also update live so you can see how a bill payment or recent financial decision you've made has affected your credit score.
They can also include email updates on any changes to your credit rating as well as identity fraud alerts. Prices of online reports vary, but start from around £7 per month.
Even if you live at the same address, if you don't have a financial association with someone, for example, a joint account or mortgage, their credit history will not affect your credit.
Similarly, someone who has previously lived at your address cannot affect your credit rating.
If your partner's credit rating is poor, this could affect yours if you have a financial association, so it's important to be aware if their score before you get a joint account or mortgage together.
Credit rating agencies supply information on your credit history to potential lenders. It's the lender who makes a decision on whether to give you credit.
Credit reporting agencies don't advise the lenders on what decision to make.
If you want to dispute an error on your credit report that is affecting your credit score, read our guide to fixing errors on your credit report.
If you've been rejected for credit, it doesn't mean you're on a credit blacklist. In fact, there isn't any credit blacklist. Lenders view your application and credit report in order to determine if you are a credit risk.
Each lender has a different way of calculating who is a risk, so even if one lender rejects you, you may be accepted by another.
If you've been denied credit, viewing your credit report can help you find ways to improve your credit rating and avoid having applications rejected in future.
Lenders want to know if you are reliable in paying back debt, so having little or no credit history can sometimes make it difficult to get credit.
In many cases, having had debts that you have reliably repaid will lead to a better credit rating than if you have avoided debt completely.
If you are struggling to get credit then a credit builder credit card could help improve your credit score and give you a history of paying debt.
Your credit report shows the names of anyone you have a joint mortgage or joint account with, but information about their credit history is not included in your report.
Still, many lenders will choose to look up a financial associate or partner's credit report and they may use this information when deciding whether or not to grant you credit.
It is a good idea to check your credit report before applying for a new credit account such as a loan, mortgage or credit card.
By viewing your credit report you can:
Identify opportunities for improving your credit rating.
Often the credit reporting agency will provide you with advice on how to improve your credit rating along with your credit report.
Spot any errors and ask for a correction
. You will need to provide proof that an error is in fact an error.
Find entries that could benefit from explanation via a
. If there were special circumstances that caused you to miss payments, an illness for example, you can inform the credit rating agency and future lenders will see the notice.
Monitoring your credit report also gives you a chance to protect yourself against identity fraud.
If you see an unfamiliar entry or a credit report search you have not authorised, it could mean someone has been trying to use your information to borrow money. By spotting potential fraud quickly, you can take action to stop it.
Find out more about why you should check your credit report.
Alias. An alias is any name you have previously been known by. Many people change their names after marriage or divorce. You may also have a middle name that you sometimes use in full and sometimes as an initial. Your credit report will include all of your aliases.
Credit account. Credit agreements or credit accounts include any account that gives you money, goods or service with the understanding that you will pay at a later date. Credit agreements can include credit cards, loans, mortgages, utility accounts and mobile phone accounts.
Financial associates. If you have a joint credit account, like a loan or a credit card, then the person you share that account with is considered a financial associate. That person's name will appear on your credit report.
Gone Away Information Network (GAIN). The Gone Away Information Network is used to monitor situations where someone with outstanding debt moves without providing a forwarding address to the lender. Any information about outstanding debts that GAIN has about you will appear on your credit report.
Identity fraud. Identification fraud (ID fraud) is when someone else uses your name and personal information to apply for credit or commit another crime.
Insolvency. Insolvency is an inability to repay one's debts. Those who have been judged to be insolvent often declare bankruptcy, create an individual voluntary arrangement (IVA) or receive an administration order to get out of debt. Details of these arrangements appear on your credit report.
Notice of Correction. This is a short explanation of the circumstances surrounding an event in your credit report. For example, if you can show that you were unable to make a certain payment on time due to an event such as an illness you can add a Notice of Correction to your credit report.
Repossession. Repossession is when someone is unable to repay their mortgage and their home is taken back by the lender. Repossession reports appear on your credit report.
Statutory credit report. By law, everyone has the right to view their credit report for a fee of £2. You can order your statutory credit report for £2 by mail or online from the credit reporting agencies, Experian, Equifaq and TransUnion.