Credit Reference Agencies collect and store the information that is used to decide your credit score. The information they hold can affect your chances of being accepted for credit – from a loan or credit card, to a mobile phone contract.
Here are 5 things you should know about the way they work:
It’s all about risk
Credit Reference Agencies use the data they hold to create your individual credit score. This score reflects how risky you might be to a credit lender. The higher the score, the less of a risk you are.
There’s more than one
In the UK there are 3 main Credit Reference Agencies: Equifax opens in a new tab , Experian opens in a new tab and TransUnion opens in a new tab . This is different to other countries, which sometimes have only one. When you apply for credit, the lender might do a credit check with one, two or all three agencies.
They know a lot about you
Many different organisations report data to Credit Reference Agencies, including utility companies (gas, water, phone), banks, credit cards, loans and mortgages. They also use publicly available information like county court judgments and the Electoral Roll. The agencies are bound by the Data Protection Act to ensure the data they hold is safe, accurate and relevant.
You have more than one score
As each Credit Reference Agency gets their information from different organisations and has their own scoring system, your score number will be different at each one. This means that a score of 650 might mean ‘good’ with one agency, but ‘poor’ with another. Don’t get too caught up in the numbers, just aim to be near the top of the scale.
Not all credit checks impact your credit score
When you apply for a credit card, your application leaves a mark on your credit file that other lenders can see.
Some credit card companies offer eligibility checkers that let you know if you’ll be accepted before you apply. QuickCheck by Capital One will give you 100% certainty if you’ll be accepted for a credit card before you apply – without impacting your credit score.