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What is a credit report?

Your credit report holds all the information about your credit history and tells lenders how you manage money.

03 February 2017Helen Tippell 3 min read
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Eunice Lituanas on Unsplash

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Our guide to understanding what a credit report is and what you need to know about it.

A credit report is a record of the number and type of accounts you have, how much of your available credit you’ve used, your payment history and the length of your credit history.

There’s lots to explore in your credit report, including:

Personal information

You can check your name, date of birth, address and past addresses are correct. You’ll also be able to make sure you’re on the electoral roll – which is one of the ways lenders can check your ID when you apply for credit.

Account information

Credit cards, debit cards, loans and more are stored in your report. You’ll find the date you opened the account and how much money you borrowed.

Payment history

Whether you’ve paid on time or missed a payment, you’ll find it in your report.

Soft and hard searches

A soft search is when a lender assesses your eligibility for a product. Only you can see the soft searches on your credit report, and they have no impact on your credit score. A hard search happens when you apply for a loan or credit and will be shown on your credit report.

To keep yourself safe from fraud, it’s a good idea to regularly check your report. If you spot anything you don’t recognise, you can report it to a credit reference agency – like Equifax, Experian or TransUnion.

Learn more: Understanding hard and soft credit searches

Some things you won’t find in your credit report are:

  • Your salary
  • Savings account information
  • Any student loans you might have
  • Your medical history
  • Information about your gender or ethnicity
  • Fines (like those for parking or driving)
  • Council tax payments in arrears
  • Criminal records

There are three main credit reference agencies (CRAs) in the UK – Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. Depending on where you get your credit report from, the details will either be free to view, or you’ll need to pay a monthly or annual fee.

CRAs collect information from a range of places, including banks, lenders and utility companies.

At ClearScore, we use Equifaxto bring your credit score and full report for free, forever.

Your credit score is a number that’s based on everything in your credit report. It’s a good indication of how well you manage credit and how risky it is to lend to you. CRAs use their own scoring bands, so your score might look different if you check it at ClearScore and at Experian, for example.

There’s not a specific number for a ‘good’ credit score. At ClearScore, our score bands look like this:

Score

Band

0 - 409

Let's start climbing

410 - 519

Moving on up

520 - 604

On good ground

605 - 724

Looking bright

725+

Soaring high

If your score fits into the highest three bands, it usually means you have a good history of paying back the money you borrow – like on a credit card ­– on time and in full.

If your score is between 0 and 519, you could still see offers for loans, credit cards or car finance but the lender might give you a lower limit or higher interest rates. It’s a good idea to look at ways to improve your score.

Whenever you apply for credit, lenders will want to look at your report to figure out how risky it is to lend you money. Generally, if your report shows you manage money responsibly, you’re more likely to be accepted.

It’s also a good idea to check your report yourself. That way, you can quickly spot and fix any mistakes.

There’s an option to explain some of the information that appears on it by adding a notice of correction.

If there’s a mistake or something that you don’t recognise, you can also dispute it with the CRA. If it does turn out to be an error, they have to correct it.

Spotted something you don't recognise on your credit report? Learn how you can dispute it here

A notice of correction is a note on your report (up to 200 words) that you can use to clarify any late payments or defaults. For example, if you were made redundant for a period of time.

You’re entitled to a printed or online copy of your credit report – you can reach out to the CRA, and once you’re registered with them, request your statutory report.

Next step: Get your free credit score and report from ClearScore today.

Key highlights

  1. A credit report is a document that contains your credit history and other personal information
  2. If the information on your report is correct, you can’t change it. If it contains mistakes, you can dispute the information with the lender or credit reference agency
  3. You can add a notice of correction to your report to clarify any late payments or defaults
  4. Only licenced credit reference agencies can hold your credit report. The three UK credit reference agencies are Equifax, Callcredit and Experian
  5. ClearScore shows you information from Equifax
  6. Everyone is entitled to a £2 statutory credit report from the credit reference agencies

Helen Tippell Image

Written by Helen Tippell

Digital Copywriter

Helen's our resident Digital Copywriter. She makes personal finance easier to understand so you can be ClearScore sure about your choices.