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  • Improving your credit score

How to Fix a Bad Credit Score

Your credit file is your passport to obtaining credit in the future. It records such things as how well you manage current credit agreements (e.g. loans & credit cards), whether you have made applications for further credit and if you have been late repaying or defaulted on any debt.

As it is so central to how we manage our financial lives that it's really important you know how to manage your credit file. It really is possible to repair and fix bad credit.

How to Repair Bad Credit:

  • It's all about what is recorded in your credit file
  • Fix everything in your file that is incorrect
  • New good news for your file dilutes older bad news
    • Get some credit and repay it on time and in full

Why You Have a Bad Credit Score

When you apply for credit the lender checks your file and turns it into a score - if the score is too low they won't lend to you or give you credit. If you have been rejected then this is because you have a bad credit history.

Your credit file records the way you manage your credit activity and information flows into your file continuously. It will come from credit card companies, loan companies, mobile phone companies, utility companies, etc. But it could also contain errors, or it might contain spurious data that could damage your financial reputation if you have suffered identity theft.

What's on Your Credit File?

As there is no automatic right to credit it's important to ensure that what is on your credit file is correct. You can request incorrect information to be deleted and this will help your credit rating. With the rise of identity theft there is also a risk that people will try to obtain credit in your name. This could also be recorded on your credit file potentially damaging your legitimate right to get credit in the future.

So, do you know what is on your credit file? Do you know why you are being refused credit? As it is so important to know what's on your credit file we've teamed up with Experian to provide you with their CreditExpert service.

Get your credit file credit report from Experian

Check your Credit File if you...

  • are applying for a financial product - loans, mortgages, credit cards, interest-free credit, etc.
  • have applied for credit and have been refused - why were you refused?
  • are concerned about your credit history
  • want to check that the information held about you is correct
  • want to protect yourself from identity theft.

The Home Office actually recommends getting your credit report on a regular basis to help reduce the risk of identity theft.

So, don't let credit be denied to you because wrong information is held about you, and don't let yourself become the victim of identity theft. Check your credit file today.

Correcting your Credit File

If any of the information held about you is incorrect or should have been deleted you can request its removal - this should help your credit status.

The credit reference agencies generally hold information on your file for at least 6 years and it includes:

  • Settled accounts
  • Credit accounts "in default" - deleted 6 years after the date of default
  • Bankruptcy orders - deleted 6 years after the date of the bankruptcy order
  • Individual Voluntary Arrangements (IVAs) - deleted 6 years from the date the IVA was set up
  • County Court Judgements (CCJs) - deleted 6 years after the date of the judgement
  • Magistrate court fines

Actions to Help Fix a Bad Credit Score

Read our Guide to Improving Your Credit Rating

More about Managing your Credit File:

What information is in my credit file

The main credit reference agencies (see "Who holds credit files about me" below) gather four main different types of data about you:

  • Electoral roll information - about your UK residency, including your address
  • Court records - such as whether you have been subject to CCJs (county court judgements), IVAs, bankruptcies and othe debt orders
  • Searches - by lenders when you have applied for credit (inc. any company giving you credit for a product or service you might purchase) & utility companies
  • Account data - this covers your account behaviour. Primarily this means how well you meet repayment deadlines.
How to improve my credit file & credit rating

These are the simple rules that, over time, will help you clean up your credit file and so improve your credit rating. Keep in mind that this is about improving the data held on your files and this in turn will be used by companies to judge your credit score:

  • pay your bills on time
  • don't miss payments or default on debt
  • pay off your credit card bill in full each month
  • don't change address or job too frequently
  • honour repayment schedules agreed for previously defaulted debt

...and don't forget to check that what is on your credit file is correct.

How to improve my credit score

Fact - you don't have just a single credit score. Credit scoring is the process that lenders go through to judge the risk of lending to you. They will look at your credit file and other information to generate the score. Since not all lenders are after the same type of customers different lenders could score you quite differently.

But, taking steps to improve and correct what is on your credit file will, everything else being equal, help to raise your credit scores when you look for loans and other credit.

If you have credit problems and don't want to be credit scored then a guarantor loan may be an option for you.

Identity theft & how to avoid it

Fraud linked to identity theft is a growing problem, as more and more data is handled on line and is held by organisations. CIFAS, the UK body responsible for trying to help prevent fraud, say that around 120,000 cases of identity fraud are reported each year at a cost of over £3.0bn. CIFAS report that:

  • it can take up to 48 hours of work for a typical victim to sort out their lives and clear their name
  • in a "total hijack" of someone's identity (perhaps involving up to 30 organisations) it could take over 200 hours to get their lives back in order
  • a victim's credit status may also suffer considerable damage

How to minimise the risk of your identity being stolen

  • don't be complacent online:
    • use strong passwords that are unique to each service you use.
    • don't share your passwords.
    • be careful what you disclose about yourself on social media
    • be very cautious about clicking links in emails - hover your mouse on the link to see where it is really going to send you
  • shred financial documents before disposing of them
Who holds credit files about me

In the UK there are 3 main credit reference agencies gathering data about us:

Equifax Ltd
Credit File Advice Centre
PO Box 1140
Bradford
BD1 5US
0844 335 0550
www.equifax.co.uk

Callcredit Plc
Consumer Services Team
PO Box 491
Leeds
LS3 1WZ
0870 060 1414
www.callcredit.co.uk

Experian Ltd
Customer Support Centre
PO Box 8000
Nottingham
NG80 7WF
0344 4818000
www.experian.co.uk

Credit reference agency blacklists

This is a myth. The UK's Information Commissioner's Office (the body who monitors data protection) has confirmed that credit reference agencies do not hold blacklists of borrowers, and they do not tell lenders if they should offer you credit or not. This decision is for the lenders to make themselves.

My £2 statutory credit report

The 3 UK credit reference agencies are obliged to provide you with the credit data they hold about you. You can obtain it from each agency for £2 (i.e. £6 in total). This fee is charged each time you make a data request, and the fee is non refundable. You can order the reports via their websites or via the post. You should receive the information with 7 working days.

The CreditExpert alternative allows you unlimited access to your credit data and an instant response. As part of the service there is also a fraud monitoring service with an alert system. This lets you know if there are any changes to your credit report.

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