Nobody has the right to credit. Before giving you credit, lenders such as banks, loan companies and shops want to be confident that you can repay the money they lend. To help them do this, they may look at the information held by companies called credit reference agencies.
If personal information held about you is incorrect or out of date, it could lead to you being unfairly refused credit.
You can read all about credit, your rights and what to do if things go wrong in our leaflet credit explained (pdf).
What are credit reference agencies?
Credit reference agencies give lenders a range of information about potential borrowers, which lenders use to make their decisions. The information shared may include information about your previous credit history. They hold certain information about most adults in the UK. This information is called your credit reference file or credit report.
The three main consumer credit reference agencies in the UK are Callcredit, Equifax and Experian.
If you think you have been refused credit unfairly, you can ask the lender to explain the main reason why and review their decision. Even if the lender reviews their decision, they may still turn you down. You can request a copy of your credit reference file from any of the three main consumer credit reference agencies in the UK.
How do I get my credit reference file?
You have the right to write to any of the credit reference agencies and ask for a copy of your credit reference file, which will cost you £2. Your letter should include:
- your full name;
- any other names you have used or been known by in the last six years eg your maiden name;
- your full address including postcode;
- any other addresses you have lived at in the last six years;
- your date of birth; and
- a cheque or postal order for £2 made payable to the credit reference agency.
You should keep a copy of your letter and you may want to send it by recorded delivery. Unless the agency needs more information, they have seven working days from receiving your letter to provide you with a copy of your file.
Sometimes the credit reference agencies need more information from you before they can send you your file. For example, they may need proof of your name and address from a utility bill or bank statement. This is important to make sure that no one else gets your file by mistake or to check that no one else has fraudulently applied for your credit reference file. The agencies do not have to send you your file until they get this information.
The addresses of the credit reference agencies are:
Credit File Advice Centre
PO Box 1140
0844 335 0550
Consumer Services Team
PO Box 491
0870 060 1414
Customer Support Centre
PO Box 8000
0844 481 8000
What should I do if my credit file is inaccurate?
If your credit file is inaccurate, you can raise your concerns with the credit reference agency. However, the problem may lie with the original lender or organisation that supplied the agencies with their information so you will need to contact them instead.
If you have contacted the credit reference agencies and the original lender and there is an obvious inaccuracy which they are unwilling to correct then you may wish to report your concerns to the ICO. Please note that it's not our role to decide on financial disputes.