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Checking your credit report does not affect your score

Know your hard check from a soft check, and understand which one to watch out for.

Credit scores and credit reports are part of many people’s lives as they affect our ability to take on financial commitments such as a mobile phone contract or a mortgage or even a job. However, until now in the UK, this information has not been easy to access and monitor. We explain here what happens when you check your report, and what happens when a company checks it.

Your credit report is a file held by credit bureaus, which contains your personal information and your credit history. It can only be accessed by you or with your permission – you usually give this to lenders when you apply for a loan, for example.

Your credit report shows when someone has checked your report. There are two types of inquiries that can be carried out on your report:

Soft check – A soft check is a type of inquiry carried out on your credit report that is not visible to prospective lenders. This type of a check does not affect your credit score or hinder your ability to get credit. You can see these for a period of 12 months.

The following fall into this category:

  • When you check your own report, e.g. through ClearScore.com
  • When your report is accessed for the purpose of an identity check
  • Some lenders offer a soft-check to see whether you will be eligible for a loan (always check this carefully, to avoid a mark on your report)

Hard check – A hard check is a type of an inquiry which leaves a mark on your credit report. This type of a check is visible to the prospective lenders and will affect your score. Most hard inquiries stay on your report for 12 months, whilst a debt collection check is visible for a period of 2 years. The usual advice is to minimise the number of hard checks as a large number of them on your report may make you seem desperate for credit and therefore decrease your chance of getting a loan. A hard check may also cause your credit score to drop slightly for a short period of time.

The following fall into this category:

  • Any application for a loan, a credit card or a mortgage
  • Some mobile phone, broadband etc. contracts will require a hard check

If you’re not sure, check with your provider to find out whether they carry out soft or hard checks on your account.

ClearScore - Using ClearScore will never affect your credit score. When you register with ClearScore, a soft search will be recorded on your report. From then on, ClearScore is provided with your updated credit report and score once a month, which will show up as a soft search under our name.

 

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