10 min read

5 minute monthly checklist

Hannah Patnick
3 February 2017

If you only have a few minutes a month to check your credit report, we’ve got a quick cheat sheet on the key things to keep an eye on.

Just like reading your credit card bill or checking your bank statement, your credit report is something that’s worth looking at regularly. This way you can keep an eye out for fraud, maintain your credit score, and put yourself in the best position to get the cheapest rates on loans, mortgages and credits cards (when you need them).

We’ve pulled together a list of the 4 main things on your credit report that are worth checking each month: your searches, your listed accounts, your payment history and your financial associations.

Let's begin...

Check one: searches

What to check: Make sure you recognise all of the soft (quotation/personal searches) and hard (credit application) searches listed on your account.

You can find out more in our article on understanding searches.

Why check: If there’s a hard search appearing on your account it means that a lender or a credit reference agency believe you have applied to borrow money. Any hard searches you don’t recognise might mean you have an error on your account, or (though it’s less likely) it could be a sign of fraud.

When you look at your searches don’t be alarmed if your soft searches (which we call quotation/personal searches) make up quite a long list. These have no effect on your credit score, and are only visible to you. Quotation searches are done to check your eligibility for a product, and a personal search happens when you check your own credit report.

Where to check on ClearScore: Go into the ‘Report’ section of your account, then into the ‘Searches’ tab. You’ll see two types of searches – ‘credit application searches’ which are your hard searches, and ‘quotation/personal searches’ which are your soft searches. (You can login to your ClearScore account here).

What to do if I spot a problem:

  • Contact the named lender immediately and double check it’s definitely a mistake
  • If you still don’t recognise the transaction on a hard search, you should raise a dispute with the credit reference agency. On ClearScore you can do this here
  • If you believe the transaction is fraudulent you should also contact Action Fraud.

Check your credit report and score for free, as many times as you like with ClearScore

Check two: accounts

What to check: Make sure the list of accounts in your credit report is accurate.

You should make sure all of your accounts are there, and they all belong to you. This applies only to accounts with a credit facility i.e. credit cards, loans, mortgages, current accounts with an overdraft, mobile phone bills and some utility bills.

Why check: Any account listed on your credit report can affect your credit score. So if one of your accounts isn’t there, and it’s one you manage well, you won’t benefit from any possible boost to your credit score. If an account is listed that you don’t recognise, and this account has some negative factors, such as a string of missing payments, this could negatively affect your credit score.

Helpful hint
Not all banks and lenders report to every credit reference agency. So if your account is with Metro Bank, for example, this may not show up on an Experian credit report. This is because Metro Bank don’t give information to Experian. For a full list of which banks use which credit reference agency, see this table

Where to check on ClearScore: Go into the ‘Report’ section of your account, then the ‘Accounts’ tab. You will see your accounts listed here on both the open and closed tabs. (You can login to your ClearScore account here).

What to do if I spot a problem:

  • Contact the lender and check if the issue is at their end. If this is the case, they will need to update your records in order for your credit report to be amended.
  • If the lender’s records are correct, you should raise a dispute with the credit reference agency. You can contact any of the 3 CRAs directly. ClearScore users can use the disputes process here.

The facts about utility bills
You may wonder why only some of your utility accounts will show up on your credit report. This is for two reasons. Firstly, not every utility company will carry out a hard search on their customers – meaning they won’t report their data to the Credit Reference Agencies. Secondly, if a utility company does carry out a credit check, they may not report this to all 3 of the Credit Reference Agencies. So if they don’t report to Equifax, this won’t appear on your ClearScore account.

Check three: Check your payment history

What to check: Make sure your payment history is accurate.

Your payment history shows if and how you have paid your bills. This will show if you’ve paid in full, in part or made a minimum payment. It will also show if you’ve missed a payment, or defaulted on a payment and this is what you should check.

Helpful note: The amounts you see on your payment history won’t usually match your monthly statements. Don’t be alarmed. This is because lenders share this information with the Credit Reference Agencies at different times of the month – not just when your statement balance is due.

Why check: If there are any errors (such as a lender has failed to record that you’ve made a payment), this may have a negative impact on your credit score.

Where to check on ClearScore: Go to your 'Report', then the 'Accounts' section. Here you’ll be able to select ‘payment history’ for each of your accounts – both open and closed. (You can login to your ClearScore account here).

What to do if I spot a problem:

  • Contact your lender first to make sure their records match what you expect
  • If the lender’s records are correct, you should raise a dispute with the credit reference agency. You can contact any of the 3 CRAs directly. ClearScore users can use the disputes process here.

Check 4: Check your financial associates

What to check: Make sure your financial associations are up to date.

Financial associations are people you are financially connected to. This means you have a joint credit account with them, or have made a joint credit application with that person (such as a mortgage).

Why to check: If you are financially connected to someone, their information may affect a lending decision about you. This is because lenders may carry out (soft) searches on your financial connections, and if there’s something there they don’t like, they could choose not to lend to you – even if your own credit search has come back clean.

If you’re no longer financially connected with the person named in your report, or you believe someone is showing incorrectly, you should get this changed.

Where to check: If you’re logged into your ClearScore account, go into the ‘Report’ section then into the ‘Personal’ tab. Scroll down to the section that lists ‘Financial Connections’. (You can login to your ClearScore account here).

What to do if I spot a problem:

  • Double check your ‘Accounts’ and ‘Searches’ sections of your report, just in case there are any joint credit accounts or applications you’ve forgotten about.
  • If this is definitely an old association, you should raise a dispute with the credit reference agency. You can contact any of the 3 CRAs directly. ClearScore users can use the disputes process here.

And you’re done. Now you should have 30 seconds left to polish your halo.

If you have a few minutes extra...try coaching
If you want to spruce up your finances, you could benefit from our free Coaching plans. Each plan only takes around 5 minutes to complete, and you’ll get a personalised To-do list you can keep coming back to when you want to track your progress.

by Hannah Patnick

In her previous life Hannah was a consumer journalist making primetime television shows. Now she's ClearScore's new Content Producer. Amongst her many talents, Hannah is famed for her excellent tea-making skills.

ClearScore exists to make your finances simple.
We offer a free service where you can handle everything to do with credit in one place. In your ClearScore account, you can see your credit score and the full details of your credit report. Your credit cards, mortgages, mobile phone contracts, loans, overdrafts and utilities all on the record. Our goal is to make ClearScore as simple, calm and straightforward as possible. Money is stressful enough.