Credit reports and credit reference agencies

There are main 4 online services in the UK for obtaining your “credit report”, all of which make a monthly charge for their services.  The main services are owned or presented in association with the main credit reference agencies, Experian, CallCredit and Equifax.  There are some independent firms out there who present credit reports and credit information – however it is worth being careful and reading the small print.  The Office of Fair Trading recently (December 2011) have a stern warning to Adaptive Affinity Limited, the company behind QuickCreditScore, High Credit Score and Credit Score Matters – customers who failed to read the small print were shocked to find that their services were being billed at £60 per month!

The bona fide online services are convenient, as they offer instant access to your report (subject to them being able to verify your identity).  As they offer ‘free trials’ thid can be a cost-free method of obtaining your credit information.  However, the free trial is only available once per customer – if you sign up again in the future you need to make the monthly subscription payment – around £8, straight away.  While cancellation is free during the trial, it cannot be done online and requires that you ring a 0800 number – the call is free, but having to phone is inconvenient for many people, and hence many end up being charged one or more subscription payments because they haven’t had the time to call and cancel.

Another way to obtain your credit information

Online credit report services are relatively new – individuals have always – and are still – entitled to request their credit information by making a statutory request.  This can be done by sending your details, together with a small fee of £2 towards the credit reference agencies’ processing costs, by post to the credit reference agency concerned.

The information stored on individuals by credit reference agencies includes public information (for example, your entry on the electoral roll), information on any court judgements (County Court Judgements – CCJs) and information supplied directly from your creditors – including credit limits (where applicable), history of monthly payments and a summary of your account conduct.