Credit Reference Agencies

edited 6 January 2010 at 12:33AM in Credit Cards
60 replies 15.9K views
never-in-doubtnever-in-doubt
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edited 6 January 2010 at 12:33AM in Credit Cards
Credit Reference Agencies

There are a lot of stories going round about Credit Reference Agencies (CRA's) and what data they can hold and how long they can hold it for. The CRA's are actually governed by the Information Commissioners Office (ICO) meaning they choose not to make decisions; they simply hide behind the ICO - especially when things go wrong.

So, time for a new thread where we can all discuss the CRA's and share thoughts and experiences regarding data and the usage of such data. To start with, the info below will give the factual version of rules - the ones set out by the ICO. These should be referred to in any argument you may have with either the CRA or a lender.


Searches:
Whenever you apply for credit a search is performed against you and will contain the date of search, the searchers name and the type of search. If it is a credit search then it will show either credit card/loan/store card etc. If, however, it is not a credit search but a comparison search for say car insurance, this will be registered as an unrecorded entry which means only you (and the CRA) can see this data - lenders cannot.

The suggested amount of searches per year is around 6 but lenders tend to be a little flexible and so long as you have 10 or less searches performed against you (excluding unrecorded entries) in the last 12 months then you should be alright. Lenders usually look back 6 months, 4 or 5 searches is considered acceptable with too many being a high risk (suggests you are keen to get into debt, i.e. are you skint or something?).

How long does the data remain?
Searches stay on your credit file for a period of 1 year with the exclusion of Call Credit who retain it for 2 years.


Traces:
Unlike searches, a trace is performed by a tracing agent, sometimes referred to as a debt search. These are performed randomly by a Debt Collection Agency (DCA) and will show a date of search/trace and their name. Usually you will find one of these if you have a popular surname or have run-away from debt in the past. Incorrect searches/traces can be removed easily enough by writing to the CRA direct.

How long does the data remain?
Trace Searches stay on your credit file for a period of 2 years but can be appealed and removed if it is proven not to be you they are looking for.


Electoral Register:
Lenders check the electoral register for all credit based facilities. If you do not complete the proxy form that your local council sends out (usually Aug/Sep time) then you will not appear on the register which in turn will have a major impact on your ability to obtain credit. Being on it shows stability and confirms your identity - something all credit scorecards require before granting a facility.

To get added to the register, you can apply to the rolling register which will add you at the next monthly update. Click here for full details and to get registered.

How long does the data remain?
Electoral data remains on your file indefinitely and will contain all previous addresses that are declared to the council and/or the CRA's.


Public Data:
Public data, such as Bankruptcies/CCJ's/IVA's etc will remain on your credit file for a period of 6 years from the date of registration and can be seen publicly, by anyone, unlike the rest of your credit file. Having Public Data on your credit file will have a major impact on your ability to obtain credit, regardless of whether it has been settled or not.

How long does the data remain?
The data will remain on your file for a period of 6 years from judgement unless directed otherwise by the court that dealt with the case.


Linked Addresses:
Lots of rumours about linked addresses keep flying around the forum, the truth of the matter is that there is no clear guidance for the period of retaining a linked address although 8 years seems to be the 'norm'.

The ICO stipulate that "A linked address may stay on your credit file as long as this information is relevant for credit referencing purposes." However, this was changed recently because it used to say "A linked address may be created when an account moves between addresses, such as when you move house, or when a lender checks your records at your previous address, or if you tell a credit reference agency about a previous or forwarding address. A linked address may stay on your credit file for 6 years after the link has been created."

So, to sum up, a linked address will be created when an account moves between addresses (such as when you move house); when a lender checks your records at your previous address or if you tell a CRA about a previous or forwarding address.

How long does the data remain?
The link will remain for a period of 6 years but no longer than 8 years. Each specific case is looked at by the CRA's between the 6 - 8 year period.


Credit Information:
This is data pertaining to live or closed accounts that you may currently have or previously had. The data consists of green [0]'s when you pay on time, factors which improve your credit score. The more green [0]'s you have the better chance of being accepted for a new account. If you have late payments then the marker will increase and show as follows [1]; [2]; [3]; leading to [D] (default) or (settled). A means it is a new account or unrecorded, i.e. the lender doesn't update the record or the account is dormant (sometimes shows as Zzzz).

How long does the data remain?
All data is retained for a period of 6 years except in the case of a live account in which case the data will remain for 6 years from the date you closed the account. Meaning if you have had the account 10 years then close it, the data will show for a total of 16 years on your credit record.



Adverse Information:
This includes; Defaulted accounts and arrangements to pay and both are extremely derogatory and will affect your ability to obtain any credit, regardless of status (i.e. settled/outstanding).

Paying a default or leaving it outstanding makes no difference. A default is a default and if you have one on your credit file then applying for credit can be a waste of time.

An arrangement to pay is that, whereby you and a lender have agreed an amount of repayment suitable to both parties, usually less than the agreed amount within the credit agreement - although frowned upon by lenders, it does show that you're trying.

How long does the data remain?
The data will remain on your credit file for a period of 6 years from the date of default or if statute barred (see here for details), then 6 years from the date of last payment/acknowledgement of the account.


Gone Away Information Network (GAIN):
This data can only be viewed by other participants of GAIN (i.e. other lenders). GAIN works by the lender telling the CRA's that their customer has moved without notifying them of the new address.

How long does the data remain?
GAIN stays on your credit file for a period of 6 years.


C.I.F.A.S:
This is a system that records elements of fraud and is primarily used by lenders, insurers and/or employers ultimately to prevent fraud taking place. There are different CIFAS markers, each having its own unique affect on your credit file. For instance a Cat '0' is classed as Protective Registration and would have no effect (it was requested by you). A Cat 4 (application fraud) entry would be classed as adverse in the eyes of other lenders.

CIFAS data can be either stored on your credit file or be 'hidden from view' in which case you have to send in a SAR Request, with £10, to CIFAS in order to view the data. Click here for additional details such as case studies and to see the CIFAS website.

How long does the data remain?
CIFAS usually remains for 13 months from date of registration and can only be removed by the lender; or by the CRA after the 13 month period has elapsed if the lender authorised it. However, the marker can remain indefinitely if the lender that registered the marker believes fraud is still continuing. The lender can also extend a CIFAS marker at any time.
The CIFAS categories are as follows:
0 Protective Registration
Recorded at request of the person named or to protect the identity of a deceased person1 False Identity Fraud - Use of a false name with an address

2 Victim of Impersonation
Use, by another person, of this name and/or address

3 Application Fraud (Facility Granted)
An application/proposal for any facility with one or more material falsehoods in the information provided - the facility was granted

4 Application Fraud (Facility Refused)
An application/proposal for any facility with one or more material falsehoods in the information provided - the facility was refused

5 Conversion
Conversion (disposal or sale) of goods (to which the hirer/buyer does not have title) under a hire-purchase, conditional sale, contract hire, leasing or rental agreement

6 First Party Fraud
Opening an account or other facility for a fraudulent purpose, or the fraudulent misuse of an account or facility

7 Aiding & Abetting
Aiding, abetting or assisting, or conspiring with, another or others to fraudulently procure credit, hire or other facilities, or other product or service

8 Insurance Claims Fraud
The making of a claim(s) under one or more insurance policy(ies) with one or more material falsehoods or by presenting a false or forged document.
Where a CIFAS record is marked with a category '0' this means the entry on the database has been made at the request of the person named. In the majority of cases, the person has been a victim of a crime such as burglary or mugging and has had personal documentation, which could be used to fraudulently open an account, stolen from them.

The other categories describe different types of fraudulent activity. Particular attention should be paid to category 2. This category covers the 'victims of impersonation'. Their details appear on the database for their own protection. The information does not mean these individuals have committed frauds.

Category 6 covers a variety of situations. For example, someone who deliberately reports their credit card as stolen, when it has not been stolen and they are continuing to use it would be covered by this category. The same would apply to someone who reported they have not received some goods by mail order, when the goods had been delivered and the individual was using them.


Reference Points

How to obtain your credit file:
You have the right to write to any of the credit reference agencies and ask for a copy of your credit reference file, which will cost you £2.

Your letter should include:
  • your full name -also any other names you have been known by e.g. your maiden name;
  • your full address including postcode;
  • any addresses where you have lived over the past six years;
  • your date of birth; and
  • a cheque or postal order for £2 made payable to the credit reference agency.
You should keep a copy of your letter and you may want to send it by recorded delivery. The credit reference agency has 7 working days to send you your file after receiving your letter and fee. Sometimes the credit reference agencies need more information from you before they can send you your file. For example, they may need proof of your name and address from a utility bill or bank statement. This is important to make sure that no one else gets your file by mistake or to check that no one else has fraudulently applied for your credit reference file. The agencies do not have to send you your file until they get this information.


The addresses of the credit reference agencies are:
Equifax Plc
Credit File Advice Centre
PO Box 1140
Bradford
BD1 5US

www.equifax.co.uk

Call Credit Plc
Consumer Services Team
PO Box 491
Leeds
LS3 1WZ

0870 060 1414
www.callcredit.co.uk

Experian Ltd
Customer Support Centre
PO Box 8000
Nottingham
NG80 7WF

0844 481 8000
www.experian.co.uk
:o 2010 - year of the troll :o

Niddy - Over & Out :wave:
«13456

Replies

  • thanks for the info an interesting read hope this will be a sticky cheers mate
    Aqua card - £250 Limit up to date, Jd Williams £150 limit up to date, Argos store card £400 limit up to date, Next £300 limit up to date.:beer:
  • Very informative and most useful. Thanks never-in-doubt.

    Re searches, is it normal for banks to check CRA credit files on application to open savings accounts?

    I've noticed that an 'enquiry' search has been recorded on my file from NatWest when I opened their £50 cashback offer eSaver account this time last year.

    Will this be regarded as a credit search by lenders?
  • never-in-doubtnever-in-doubt
    20.6K Posts
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    honeythief wrote: »
    Very informative and most useful. Thanks never-in-doubt.

    Re searches, is it normal for banks to check CRA credit files on application to open savings accounts?

    I've noticed that an 'enquiry' search has been recorded on my file from NatWest when I opened their £50 cashback offer eSaver account this time last year.

    Will this be regarded as a credit search by lenders?


    Hiya - & Thanks!

    Hopefully that will answer most your questions on other thread lol?>

    Regards to searches, what you describe is a verification check/i.d check and is not seen by other lenders as it will be an unrecorded enquiry. :D
    :o 2010 - year of the troll :o

    Niddy - Over & Out :wave:
  • savagejsavagej Forumite
    1.2K Posts
    I wonder what the stats are on complaints upheld against credit reference agencies, what with the recent ones on the majority of complaints against banks being uphelp. I would imagine it is more complicated to collate them as you would need to take in to account people going to court to get incorrect information removed.
  • never-in-doubtnever-in-doubt
    20.6K Posts
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    savagej wrote: »
    I wonder what the stats are on complaints upheld against credit reference agencies, what with the recent ones on the majority of complaints against banks being uphelp. I would imagine it is more complicated to collate them as you would need to take in to account people going to court to get incorrect information removed.

    Well this would be interesting but unfortunately we cannot ask under Freedom of Info so would have to (I suppose) get a FoI request from the governing body (so the FOS) would be able to tell us but the ICO dont rule, they only offer advice so pointless FoI them really.

    I may try and blag it via FOS using Freedom of Information and see what they say! :beer:
    :o 2010 - year of the troll :o

    Niddy - Over & Out :wave:

  • I may try and blag it via FOS using Freedom of Information and see what they say! :beer:
    go for it as the CRA'S are a law upon them selves.
  • never-in-doubtnever-in-doubt
    20.6K Posts
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    go for it as the CRA'S are a law upon them selves.

    Lol, don't I know it matey! Am still waiting on a court date for Equifax - they are playing ball now removing the incorrect links (bummer) but we'll see what happens.

    I'll deffo request the info and see what I get back.... :D
    :o 2010 - year of the troll :o

    Niddy - Over & Out :wave:
  • Equifax are weird - a couple of credit searches suddenly appeared from products I applied for last year!Yes they were legit - but why add them now - were they lost in the system?
  • never-in-doubtnever-in-doubt
    20.6K Posts
    ✭✭✭✭✭
    Equifax are weird - a couple of credit searches suddenly appeared from products I applied for last year!Yes they were legit - but why add them now - were they lost in the system?

    so long as the date matches and they go after 12mth then no worries mate - just keep an eye on them so they don't try and keep them 1yr from addition to file :beer:
    :o 2010 - year of the troll :o

    Niddy - Over & Out :wave:
  • Well done NID.

    With reference to credit searches, is it true that most lenders are now using call credit.

    I very much doubt this but this is what i was told by LTSB.
    I have a their premier account and get charged £25 a month for so called 'benefits'.

    One of the benefits was free monitoring of your file thru experian - unlimited reports, alerts etc.

    But behold, they have suddenly changed their package. They now use Call Credit instead of Experian. i.e. the credit monitoring service would henceforth be provided by Call Credit. This is poor value for money in my opinion as i believe no one uses call credit.

    When i queried with LTSB, i was told i was wrong and that infact most lenders have now decided to use all 3 CRA for credit checking purpose???
    Very unbelieveable to me and it seems likely i would cancel my package account with them.....not worth it
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