One task everyone should perform once a year is to check their personal credit report.
What you need to do
TIME NEEDED - LESS THAN 5 MINUTES
There are a number of services you can use to check your credit report but Credit Karma (formerly Noddle) is free for life, unlike a number of other credit rating services and it is used by over 3 million people.
- Go to the website Credit Karma or download the app
- Follow the short onscreen instructions asking you to enter details of your name and address. In total it took me just 3 minutes and 30 seconds to get my credit report.
Checking your credit report won’t affect any credit scoring. It’s an urban myth that it does. The fact you checked will simply be noted on future reports.
What to do if there is something strange on your report or it contains incorrect information
If any of the details are incorrect then usually you have to contact the lender concerned directly, who will update their records and those of the credit reference agencies, eventually (usually after a month). However, if you click the 'dispute' button on Credit Karma, next to the incorrect information, then Credit Karma will raise the issue with the lender on your behalf. If the lender agrees that the information is inaccurate, they will make the necessary amendment or they may ask Credit Karma to update your file.
If you suspect fraudulent activity has taken place then contact Credit Karma in the first instance who can talk you through what you need to do. This will likely involve contacting CIFAS, the UK’s Fraud Prevention Service, who can put an entry on your report for protection, and/or the police.
Credit Karma will notify you each month when your credit report is ready to view and will highlight any changes since you last checked
What is a credit report?
A credit report is essentially a detailed record, compiled by a credit reference agency such as Credit Karma, of your credit history. Lenders such as your bank use this information to determine whether to lend to you and on what terms, depending on your risk as a borrower.
What does it show?
- Your name and date of birth.
- The electoral register (i.e. assuming that you are on it for the
- Your credit payment history.
- Details of your credit cards and loans, including balances, credit
limits, account statuses and the dates they were opened.
- County Court Judgements.
- Bankruptcy and administration orders
- House possessions
- Details of when you’ve applied for credit.
The information on your credit report is then used by lenders to generate a credit score, but this score is not part of the report itself, although Credit Karma does generate its own credit score for you.
Why you should check it
- To ensure all the details on the report are correct
- It is better to check there is no issue ahead of applying for credit, otherwise that dream house could remain just that. If you need to take action due to an adverse score you will have a bit of time to improve things.
- To ensure credit has not been taken out in your name without you realising. A lot of people have had credit cards falsely taken out in their name and they’ve been none the wiser until they themselves have been refused credit or the bailiffs have come knocking.
Looking for a financial adviser near you?
Do you need financial advice? An independent financial adviser can show you how to make the most of your money.
Simply find your nearest qualified and regulated adviser using the UK’s largest adviser search.