How to Properly Read Your Credit Report

by Kate on February 11, 2014

in Money

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A credit report or credit file as it is sometimes known can be a scary prospect. What goes into your credit rating? Is there anything that might count against you? Is it possible to have it rectified if it’s inaccurate? Before you jump to conclusions, there is no need to panic. The key is to understand what a credit report is used for and what exactly you can expect it to contain.

For a start, a credit report is not a definitive instrument for lenders to decide whether to grant you a loan. It is a useful tool and indicator, but certainly not definitive. On the other hand, banks, building societies and even more trivial lenders such as mobile phone companies do often place significant importance on a credit report. There are three registered credit report agencies in the UK which lenders use to acquire a credit file. However, you can also purchase your credit report from them too and have it altered if inaccurate. It is highly recommended to use one of these credit expert agencies to read your report and understand your credit rating.

A credit report is usually divided into four sections:

Profile Information
This introductory section usually simply includes your personal details, such as name, address and date of birth. It is also likely to include previous addresses and any former names you might have.

Account Information
This is really the nitty-gritty of the report and often includes the following information in a chart. It includes a list of all your credit accounts, when they were opened and their limits. It will also detail the loans you have already received, both large amounts such as a mortgage or car loan and smaller items such as store credit. The details of these credit accounts can stay on your credit report for six years after the account was closed. It is also worth noting that any joint account holders are also liable to have their details checked.

Public Records
This section of the report includes any relevant public details pertaining to your financial trust. For example, it will include any County Court judgements against you, plus details of repossession or bankruptcy. It may also include instances in which you have been a victim of identity fraud. This will not necessarily count against you but is part of the overall picture of financial risk.

Inquiries
Very simply, this will list any instances in which there have been a request to see your credit report during the last two years.

In addition to knowing what is included in your credit report, it is also important to understand what will be omitted from your file. There is no record of your savings accounts, only your credit accounts. However, there are no details of the items you may have actually purchased with your credit account. The report will also leave out details of your salary, religion, health and whether you have a criminal record. So although a credit report may sound intimidating, it really is just a report on your credit history, not a record of your life.

Of course, the report will also include a credit score, as a guide to your reliability as a borrower. It is usually reflected in a numerical value and most credit scores fall between 600 and 750. Of course, the higher the number the better! So, if your credit rating is below the average, start making some financial changes and budgeting to improve your score and overall financial standing.

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